(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Proceedings of the annual convention"

QALHrnoKJiAUA }L w 

SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY - ^ . 



3 1223 90150 0471 f: 




Accession 



347.2 CIS 2 



126295 



NOT TO BE TAKEN FROM THE LIBRARY 



Form No. 37- 5M 



Jt 



PROCEEDINGS 



OF THE 



Third Annual Convention 



OF THE 



CALIFORNIA LAND TITLE 
ASSOCIATION 



SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA 
August 19 and 20, 1909 



The Recorder Printing and Publishing Co. 
130 McAllister Street, S. F. 



Cix 



3H-1-X 






*p*p^?^ 






PROCEEDINGS 



Third Annual Convention 



CALIFORNIA 
LAND TITLE 
ASSOCIATION 



Francisco, California, 
August 19 and 20, 1909 



OFFICERS 

President — Lee C. Gates, Title Insurance & Trust Co Los Angeles 

Secretary-Treasurer — Ross E. Pierce, Pierce-Bosquit Abstract & 

Title Co P. O. Box 673, Sacramento 

First Vice-President — A. J. Carmany San Francisco 

Second Vice-President — E. L. Bosquit Nevada City 

Third Vice-President— W. W. Eden Fresno 



EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE 

A. J. Carmany, Chairman 250 Montgomery street, San Francisco 

Chas. G. Bacon Martinez 

A. H. Warn San Francisco 



MEMBERSHIP COMMITTEE. 

E. L. Bosquit, Chairman Nevada City 

Ira E. Kramer Santa Barbara 

Raymond E. Best Riverside 

W. W. Eden Fresno 

John McCarthy Oakland 



CONTENTS 

Page 

Officers and Committees 3 

Secretary's Notes 5-6 

Annual Address of President, by Lee C. Gates 7 

Address — "Certificates of Title vs. Abstracts," by James X. Watson. 17 
Address— "Country Abstracts," by E. II. Eixford 23 

Paper — "Scattered Observations on the Abstract of Title." by Ross 
E. Pierce :;i 

Address — "Some Incidents of Title Insurance," by B. S. Wilicins. . .43 

Address — "How an Abstracters" Association in California Im- 
presses a Man from Arkansas," by Geo. Vaughan ."1 

Address — "Inheritance Tax Liens on Real Estate," by Robert A. 
Waring 53 

Paper — "Abstract of Probate Proceedings," by C. W. Leach <>3 

Address— By W. R. Taylor 69 

Address— By M. P. Bouslog 71 

Record of Minutes of Third Annual Meeting 74 

Directory of Members of California Land Title Association 77 



SECRETARY'S NOTES. 



MEMBERSHIP. All the abstract and title offices of the State 
of California regularly engaged in busi-ness and owning an abstract 
plant are invited to join tbis Association. A number of new 
members signed the roll at the recent meeting. There are a number 
of other offices in the State who should join at once. You are next. 
Make your application by letter enclosing Ten Dollars for the cur- 
rent year's dues. 

PRINTED PROCEEDINGS. This is the third year that the Asso- 
ciation has given away to all the title offices of this state, regardless 
of membership, printed copies of the proceedings of the Conventions. 
The printed proceedings include all the addresses and papers pre- 
sented at the meetings and the discussion thereon, together with a 
record of the minutes of the meetings, thus affording to non-members 
practically all the benefits enjoyed by members at the expense of 
the members, who pay for the record, the printing, and even furnish 
the postage to forward the copies. The Secretary was instructed 
by motion duly made and carried at the recent meeting to notify 
all tbe title offices of the State that they can neirher buy, beg nor 
borrow a copy of tbe 1910 Proceedings without first being regularly 
enrolled as a member of the Association. 

BANQUET. Tbe delegates and their ladies were entertained on 
Friday evening, August 20, at a sumptuous banquet at the Bergez- 
Frank's Restaurant. Mr. Lee C. Gates acted as toastmaster. The 
banquet was tendered by the Title Insurance & Guaranty Co., the 
California Title Insurance & Trust Co., tbe Pacific Title Insurance 
Co., and tbe Standard Title Insurance Co., all San Francisco title 
companies. 

NEXT MEETING. The next meeting will be held in Los Angeles, 
the last week in June, 1910. A la rue attendance is promised. 

VISITORS. At our recent meeting we were fortunate in having 
with us three visitors from the American Association of Title Men. 
Each of these gentlemen upon invitation by the president addressed 
us, telling us of the growth of the American Association of Title 
Men and the growth of the associations in their own States. Their 
addresses are recorded in these proceedings. Some of their obser- 
vations deal with the value of the Abstract and Title Men's Asso- 



ciations and will prove interesting reading to those who have neglect- 
ed to join the Association. Mr. W. R. Taylor of Kalamazoo, Mich., 
was elected President of the American Association of Title Men at its 
recent meeting in Seattle. He is also prominent at home as an active 
member of the Michigan Abstracters' Association. Mr. George 
Vaughan of Little Rock, Ark., is Treasurer of the national organiza- 
tion as well as Secretary of the Arkansas Land Title Association. 
Mr. M. P. Bouslog, of Gulfport, is President of the Mississippi Ab- 
stracters' Association. 

TO NON-MEMBERS. You ought to do a little serious thinking 
about the value of membership in an Association of Abstracters. Mr. 
Taylor, Mr. Vaughan and Mr. Bouslog traveled a great distance in 
order to be able to attend the meeting of the American Association 
at Seattle, Wash., also the meeting of the Washington State Ab- 
stracters' Association at Seattle, Wash., as well as our meeting at 
San Francisco. They all agree that they derived great benefit at 
all of these meetings. If possible, they intend to attend every 
meeting of the American Association and of their respective State 
Associations as long as they are engaged in the title business. Every 
California Abstracter who attended the third annual meeting signi- 
fied his attention of being present at Los Angeles next June. They 
all hope to greet YOU as a new member at that time. 



Annual Address by Lee C. Gates 

President of California Land Title Association and Chief Counsel for 
the Title Insurance aud Trust Company, of Los Angeles. 

Gentlemen of the Convention : You may remember that a 
year ago the California Land Title Association commissioned 
me to attend the session of the American Land Title 
Association, which was to meet a few days later at Des 
Moines, Iowa. Acting under the authority with which you vested me, 
I proceeded to the East and attended and addressed the sessions of 
the Des Moines convention. Mr. Vaughan is here and can certify 
that I was there upon that occasion, as I can certify to the fact that 
he was there. The meeting was held on the 19th and 20th days of 
August. There was a representative gathering present, not a very 
large gathering, but comprised of representatives from nearly every 
quarter of the Union. The New England States and farther East 
were not very well represented, but the South, West, and the Middle 
West, were quite generally present through their delegations. 

A number of papers were read at the convention, and the Ameri- 
can Land Title Association was fully launched and projected. There 
had been one meeting before that at the city of Chicago, which had 
merely put the Association into the field. The last year's session at 
Des Moines put it upon its feet. In the election of officers there held, 
I was made one of the Executive Committee. The California Land 
Title Association presented its application for membership to the 
American Association, and became a member, upon the payment of 
the dues, which were forwarded by our Secretary, Mr. Pierce, some 
time subsequently to my application to the general Association. 

The terms of membership in the American Land Title Association 
include the payment by a State association of one dollar for each 
member of such State association. I do not remember how many 
members we had at the time of the Des Moines convention, but Mr. 
Pierce forwarded the requisite amount, and the California Land 
Title Association is now a member of the American association, and 
each member of the California Land Title Association is also a mem- 
ber, by reason of the fact that the State- association is a member of 
the national association. It will be necessary, if we desire to renew 
our membership in the national association, for our Stale associa- 
tion to pay to the Treasurer of the national association the one ilol- 
abership fee for each of its members for the present year. 

After the session at Des Moines had closed, a meeting was ar- 
ranged for this year at the city of Seattle, and Mr. Watson, of 



Solano County, Mr. McCarthy of Oakland and myself have just re- 
turned from attending the Seattle meeting, which occurred but a few 
days ago. There was perhaps not quite so large an attendance at the 
Seattle meeting as at the Des Moines convention, because of the long 
distance to travel to reach the place of meeting. But it was well 
attended, nevertheless, and a very interesting meeting had. 

At the Seattle meeting, a form of membership badge or certificate 
was adopted. It consists of a device similar to that which was 
adopted by the Bankers' Association of the country, of a pi< 
metal about the size of the paper which I hold in my hand, and upon 
that is engraved, "Member of the American Association of Title 
Men". Below it, attached by small chains, are to be the annual re- 
newal certificates, which state, iu effect, "Effective until" a certain 
date, being the date to which the dues arc paid. If we continue as 
a member of the national association, upon the payment of our dues, 
with the possible additional fee which will be required to pay for the 
cost of this badge or metal arrangement, you will each receive one 
of those certificates. Mr. Carmany, in his office below, has a certifi- 
cate to the effect that he is a member of the Realty Board of the 
City of San Francisco, and it is similar to that. These can be hung 
up. and then, as the dues are paid each year, a renewal certificate 
will be furnished which will be attached to the original. 

With respect to the two conventions of the national association 
thus far held, I may say to you that there is a well-defined sentiment 
abroad that larger co-operation is necessary in order that the land 
title men of the country, those men who are engaged in the business 
of assuring titles, may confer, and in order that the work may be 
brought to a better uniformity of basis, and also to enable them to 
take such steps as may be necessary to offset some of the recent 
movements which are taking place in various parts of the country 
looking to the devising of other means of title evidence or assurance. 

Iu that connection, in some of the States there are country-owned 
title abstract books, and various other devices which have grown out 
of a sort of unrest among the people, who are desirous of obtaining 
some other means of title examination or title assurance or title 
knowledge than they now have. This sentiment is more acute in some 
States than in others. In places this agitation takes the form of the 
Torrens land certificate system, of which you all know more or less, 
some of us less than we ought to, and some of us more than we would 
like to. We have it in this State, aud they have it in various other 
States — in Washington and in Oregon and Minnesota, I believe, and 
in Colorado, Massachusetts, and Illinois. I do not know whether any 
other States except those enumerated have it. If there are others, 
they do not occur to me at the present moment. 

All of these matters are a part of an unrest which is being felt 
in tue country, which grows, in part, out of the fact that the title 
companies have not fully met a demand of the public as to the means 



of title assurance. The American Association of Title Men, at both 
its sessions at Des Moines and Seattle, expressed itself as desirous of 
devising ways and means better than those which we now have, to 
offset this agitation, and to counteract it as far as possible. In fact, 
the sentiment of the meeting at Seattle was that a determined stand 
should be taken by the title men of the country, through educational 
means, against the present Torrens system and the continuance of 
the practice of that system of putting land within the Torrens law. 
Because, in all the States of the Union, wherever the Torrens land 
act is in force, Mr. Kenney, of Madison, Wisconsin, tells me that land 
once placed under the system can never be removed from it— that is 
part of the law, that is one of the provisions of each of the laws of 
that kind, it is a provision of the law of the State of California, the 
idea of the advocates of the system being that, little by little, piece 
by piece, as land is placed under the system, it will make headway 
and can never go back, because every time you get a parcel of land 
under the system, it cannot be taken out, and they cannot lose any- 
thing, but they will be gradually gaining, and that in time, unless it 
be checked, either by judicial interpretation of the law declaring it 
to be invalid, as I believe it to be, or by the growth of public senti- 
ment as to its futility, it will make serious inroads upon the land 
titles of the country and deprive the title companies of a part of 
their employment and part of their revenue. 

As I stated a moment ago, we have in our State laws the pro- 
vision that land once placed under the Torrens system shall remain 
there. The purpose is evident and obvious, namely, that there can 
be no retraction after once the step is taken. This, however, has an- 
other result, because many men are deterred and debarred from 
putting their land under that system, knowing that once it is there, 
they cannot take it out. In some respects, therefore, it militates 
against rather than in favor of the law. 

This brings me, gentlemen, to an idea which I have always had, 
anti which was strengthened by attendance on the meeting at Seattle, 
and which I bring to you, and that is the duty which we owe 
to a certain class of those among us. In my connection with the 
Title Insurance and Trust Company below, I have always had and 
held to the idea that there is one individual who commanded the best 
efforts of the title company, my own in particular, and all others as 
well, the man who really stands back of all of us, the man who pays 
all our salaries, the man who provides all of the dividends that we 
pay upon the capital stock of the corporations with which we arc 
connected, the man who builds our plants, who, in fact, is the builder 
of the entire business of title insurance — and thai man is the cus- 
tomer, the man who stands at the counter and leaves his order, who 
employs the title company to give him that which lie employs them 
to produce for him, the man who pays the hill, the man who is your 
boss and mine, the man who is obliged 1<» have his title certified, to 



10 

have it abstracted, or to have it insured. That man is the man I am 
thinking about in the remarks I will make to you this afternoon. 
That man's name, you will recognize it at once, is legion, and that 
man is the man who is asking of legislators, who is asking of States, 
who is asking of corporations, who is asking of individuals who are 
engaged in the business of title insurance, the best thing that can be 
produced for his benefit. It is the duty of the title men of the coun- 
try to produce for him any improvement that can be made in the 
methods that shall be used for his benefit, and to give him the as- 
surance of title which he is required to have in the event that he 
either sells or mortgages his property. This is the gentleman that 
I have in my mind's eye, and he is the man that I am trying to picture 
to you this afternoon. It is his demands, his purposes, his wishes, 
his necessities, that are before us ; and it is this gentleman, too, who 
has largely been in a state of unrest with respect to what he has 
received in the past. He is entitled to the very best the profession 
can give him : he is entitled to nothing short of that. I always think 
of the song that runs, "And the best in the house was none too good 
for Riley". If you will call him Riley, and then think that the best 
in the house is none too good for him, you have the man I am think- 
ing of and talking to you about this afternoon, are you giving him 
the best that can be had? Are you giving him the best that the 
title companies and the most advanced title men of the country have 
devised in his behalf? 

The old method, you know, has been usually to give him an ab- 
stract of title, and then allow him to carry it to his attorney and let 
the attorney pass upon it and render his opinion, and upon that 
opinion the parties to the transaction, whether it be vendor and 
vendee or mortgagor and mortgagee, proceed to act. But with this 
method he is not quite satisfied. There are a number of reasons for 
his unrest. It is cumbrous, to begin with. It is slow, in the second 
place. In the third place, having obtained the opinion of one attorney 
upon the title, when the next transaction occurs and that abstract 
is to be used as the basis of that opinion, he is probably obliged to 
obtain the opinion of another attorney, paying to him a price for the 
same service that was paid for the opinion in the first instance, 
duplicating .service and necessarily also duplicating the cost of that 
service. That system has made our customer's method of title trans- 
fer cumbrous, clumsy, slow, and expensive. He has had to pay for 
both the transcribing of the record and the opinion of an attorney. 
The record of an abstract of title is largely manual labor. You are 
simply rewriting tbat which appears of record. It is a sort of trans- 
udation of the county records, to provide that which is to be ex- 
amined by the skilled examiner, and the opinion derived therefrom, 
which is in effect the title. Of course, the public as a rule are not 
very well informed as to what title is. Title is the means by which a 
man holds his property. "Title is the means whereby a man hath 



11 

just possession of his property"," is the definition which Mr. Rix- 
ford and I learned when we were students. But to most people, the 
abstract or paper evidence is the title. But the abstract is really but 
a transcript of the records themselves, it is transmuting the records 
to provide the basis whereon an opinion can be given. And really, 
so far as the purchaser is concerned, the opinion of the attorney is 
the title to a man's property. But we all know that A, who may ex- 
amine an abstract of title today, may say "This title is good", while 
B, a different man, when he comes to examine the title years later 
for another purchaser, thinks there has been a mistake which has 
been passed over or slurred over by the former examiner, or some 
things which ought to be noted. It is this duplication of service 
and of compensation for that service that has set much of the unrest 
in motion in this country. Therefore they have said "Let us have 
an official examination, and then that never will be examined again — 
we will just continue that from time to time." 

That was suggested, even before the Torrens agitation, in some 
localities — the necessity or advisability of providing some sort of a 
means for certifying titles, similar in effect to the Torrens certifi- 
cate. To begin with, let a certificate represent the condition of the 
title at a certain time, and then, without going back over that same 
work, to have that continued from time to time, so that the con- 
tinued product represents, not a repetition of service in examining, 
but a continuation of service in examining only the continuation of 
the title from time to time. This resulted with us (and you will 
pardon the apparent egotism of these remarks, because I am speak- 
ing now largely as to Southern California) in our adopting a sys- 
tem of that kind. And there is abroad throughout the country a sen- 
timent that that system, modified to meet the circumstances and 
amplified and improved and rounded out to cure the imperfections 
which have been shown In its growth and development, is the sys- 
tem that should be adopted more generally throughout the country. 
I bring that message to you from the two conventions of the national 
association which I have attended and my contact with other men 
who are engaged in this business and seeking a solution of this 
problem. 

We have in the cities of this country, in San Francisco, in Chicago, 
in New York and Philadelphia, and I think in Pittsburg and St. 
Louis and other cities, a system of title insurance which is the 
best form of title assurance that has yet been devised, a form of 
insurance which gives to every man who deals in titles the knowl- 
edge of the fact that his title is good, and indemnity in case the 
information which is furnished him or the insurance policy win 'i 
lias been written for him, shall prove to be wrong. Of course, 
title insurance companies have to be backed by aggregations of 
capital to make them responsible. But, as compared with every 
other system that has been devised, the Torrens system not excepted, 



12 

they are infinitely superior to anything else that has yet been of- 
fered to the public. I should have included the city of Los Angeles 
in giving you the list just given, because I assure you that we write 
just as good policies of title insurance as there are written any- 
where in the country. That form of assurance, I repeat, we believe 
to be the best form of title assurance that can be devised. But our 
people in Los Angeles have never taken as fully to the policy sys- 
tem as they have to the certificate system, which we began the use 
of about the year 1SS5. 

But throughout the country, outside the large cities, the question 
is asked, Is it possible to introduce this method rather than the 
method that we now have? 

I take it that many of you listening to me this afternoon are 
engaged in the writing of abstracts of titles, are not engaged in 
writing certificates of title or policies of title insurance; that your 
people have not yet taken to the certificate method or to the insur- 
ance method ; that they still insist upon an abstract, which they carry 
to their attorneys for him to examine the title, and then proceed 
according to his opinion. To you I say, it is possible to introduce 
these other methods gradually, no matter whether your company be 
large or small, and I will tell you why. I can instance one his- 
torical example down in the southern part of this State, in the 
counties in the south end of California. In Ventura, Riverside, San 
Bernardino and San Diego counties, there are a number of smaller 
companies, all of them writing certificates, and their certificates pass 
current. They do not write policies of insurance, because they have 
not capital sufficient to enable them to qualify under the IawJQ But 
they are able to write those certificates aud have them go out and 
have the people receive them, receive them willingly, because they 
think that that is the best form that they can use, and it is by far 
the most convenient. It is quicker, and it is a finished product — 
there is nothing more to be done to it. With a certificate of title 
or policy of title insurance, you have something which shows the 
title as it stands at that moment. It does not require the interpre- 
tation of legal counsel. It is equivalent, in other words, to the ab- 
stract and the attorney's opinion combined, and in addition to that, 
it has behind it the responsibility of the company that issues it. 
In other words, it is a certificate of a legal opinion, with indemnity 
in case it is wrong. 

So I say to you that that can be done in the counties outside 
of the larger cities, because we have done it in our southern coun- 
ties. Tour abstract company is liable for any mistakes it makes in 
the compilation of the abstract. The abstract company could become 
additionally liable for a mistake in the estimate of the title, as shown 
by that abstract, and that responsibility would be probably as great 
and in nearly every instance greater than the responsibility which 
would be assumed by an attorney who might write an opinion upon 
that abstract. 



13 

I think that all lawyers will agree with me upon this: That when 
an attorney writes an opinion upon an abstract, he is liable only for 
a mistake which he makes in case he has been negligent, in case he 
has not used ordinary diligence in the examination of the abstract 
and in the examination of the law bearing upon the abstract itself, 
and in the making up of his opinion in that respect. If he uses 
diligence, he is not obliged to be certain as to the law, he is not 
obliged to be absolutely right, he may make, honestly and diligently, 
a mistake, and he will not be liable in case he made such a mistake. 
A title company or a title examiner who writes an absolute state- 
ment or a certificate to the effect that the title is unequivocally vested 
in a certain person, is liable, no matter whether he has used diligence 
or been negligent. Because he has uttered an unqualified statement. 
In other words, the liability is greater. Therefore, your customer, 
the man for whom I am pleading this afternoon, is better protected 
in that respect ; that is, there is greater liability for insurance in a 
certificate executed by a title company or a title examiner, than there 
is in an opinion by an attorney. And there is also more responsibility. 
That brings me to another question. There is a very great difference 
between liability and responsibility. Tour title companies are 
usually capitalized for a considerable sum, while a lawyer is respon- 
sible to the extent that he is able to respond in damages. I have said 
to you that the liability to the customer of the title company is 
greater than that of an attorney who renders an opinion. To that I 
now add that the title company's responsibility is also much greater. 

With all of these facts in your favor, gentlemen, you ought to be 
able to establish a line of title assurance among your customers, and 
to prove to them that the service which you render for them is better 
for them, more responsible to them, is far more efficacious, far more 
expeditious, has much greater solidity, and is, in fact, the development 
of a new system which furnishes to them a finished product and will 
enable them to dispose of their property with much less loss of time 
and liability- and vexation and annoyance, and with much greater cer- 
tainty and safety to the man who either buys or loans his money upon 
the same. 

I know what your answer is in many cases: The attorneys of our 
community are opposed to that. That may be true, and it is true in 
most localities. The attorneys look upon the examination of abstracts 
as a part of their legitimate work. And in a sense, that is true. But 
you can provide yourself with legal counsel that in a short time will 
become adept and expert, specialists in that line, who can examine 
a title with great accuracy, with more acumen, and with greater 
safety to the customer than the ordinary practitioner of the law. In 
the city of Los Angeles, and I am obliged 1<> return home now aad 
then, notwithstanding the fact that we have a strict injunction laid 
upon us never to speak much of our city when away from home — In 
the city of Los Angeles you may take an abstract to an attorney, and 
he will say ''I don't want that. You take that up to the title company 



14 

and let them examine it. They keep abreast of this work" — because 
most lawyers of active practice, aside from those engaged in this 
particular line of work, do not keep abreast of all of the fine distinc- 
tions of law that have been made by the Supreme Court from time 
to time, and you have got to keep abreast of the law and in touch with 
the decisions, because, after all, gentlemen, the greatest danger in 
the title business lies in the fact that, the Legislature meets every 
two years, and the Supreme Court is in session all the time. If it 
were not for those things, we could with greater certainty ascertain 
and certify titles. 

I know that one cannot make a very vivid exemplification or a 
very interesting address upon the law of titles. I am, indeed, sur- 
prised, that you have sat and listened to me as long as you have. 
But you are engaged in the business, and it is a technical science, it is 
a fine science, and you may qualify yourselves to do the work better 
than it can be done by any other class of men. It is possible for yon 
to do it. 

At Des Moines last year I was given the subject "The Los Angeles 
Way," which was quite a shock to my modesty, but I was obliged 
to exemplify to its fullest extent that way, telling them how we do 
business in Southern California, and incidentally how we do business 
throughout the whole of the State of California. I found this feeling 
abroad everywhere, both then, and this year at Seattle, that there 
must be found some way of improving the methods that we use, in 
order that we may give to the customer and the man who employes us, 
a better form of title assurance, which will be a better protection to 
him, and affords him a means of knowledge as to his title that he has 
not possessed heretofore. And I have said, therefore, in response 
to a number of letters that have come from all parts of the country, 
that one way you can adopt will be, if you desire to enter into the 
certificate business, to let it be known that you have employed a 
lawyer of first-class ability, who is to be your adviser, and who is to 
determine all questions of title that arise in your examinations. And 
when it is known that your certificate represents the faithfulness of 
your work in the compiling of an abstract and as well the sagacity of 
the opinion of that lawyer in determining where the title rests, you 
will be able to have your certificates in time become current and pass 
as such to the exclusion of well nigh every other form of assurance 
that may be offered to any intending purchaser or encumbrancer. 

The people who are most interested with you in the question of 
good titles are the real estate man, the purchaser and the mortgagee. 
So far as the owner is concerned, you cannot do much good and you 
cannot do him much harm. You can do him some harm by certifying 
a title to him that is not good. You can sometinies do him some good 
by certifying a bad title good, and enabling him to get rid of it. But 
the man to whom you must give your closest attention, and who looks 
to you for his fullest protection, is the man who is investing his 
money and the real estate agent who helps him to invest — although 



15 

sometimes we look upon the real estate agent as a sort of a neces- 
sity only — a necessity that we ignore, but a necessity nevertheless. 
But, after all, he is one of the active agents, one of the most active 
forces in keeping your real estate market alive. We have an army 
of them in the south, but there is an army of them everywhere. These 
men are the men who want the very best means to enable them to 
carry through the sale which they are laboring to make, to protect 
the purchaser and the mortgagee. The people you are to protect, 
then, are the vendee, the real estate agent, and the mortgagee — they 
are the men who have to have protection. The man who holds the 
title has a good title or a bad title as the case may be, and he is in- 
terested in getting rid of it if he has a sale to make — he does not 
care very much about what evidence of the title he furnishes. He 
may furnish the cbeapest, and he will furnish auything that will en- 
able him to get rid of his property. There is nothing sinister about 
that, and I am uttering no complaint. It is a part of the human na- 
ture of the transaction. But the man who buys, the man who lends 
his money, that man wants a good title. The real estate man wants 
a good title, and he wants a title that is clear and explicit, in order 
that the deal may be closed expeditiously. But the man who buys 
and the man who loans his money want to know that the title is 
good, and they want the best evidence they can get. So they are 
really your employers. The owner may be the nominal employer, but 
the man who is paying his money or loaning his money upon the 
property is the man who is your real employer, and the man to whom 
you owe the best service that you can devise. 

These are some of the remarks that I have had in my system for 
more than a year past respecting the province and the purpose of 
this association and the men and women engaged in it. It is to 
furnish something better than we have. It is to improve upon the 
system now existing. It is to march forward along the line of prog- 
ress, rather than to continue to stand behind the intrenchments that 
we have built, and to expect the public, with all the other remark- 
able forms of advancement and progress that are evident upon every 
hand, to go forward while we are sitting still. It is not in the nature 
of things that that shall be doue. The profession of the law, you 
know, is about the only one that keeps its eye constantly turned back- 
ward — we of the law are always looking for a precedent. Medicine 
and every other profession and calling is looking forward. Medicine 
and theology, you know, can afford to speculate and guess at things. 
But the lawyer does not dare, because he must know, and. he can only 
know by looking backwards. But our business can look forward, and 
we can advance along the lines indicated by these demands. The 
time for allowing three or four week to expire between the time you 
begin your examination of title and the time that you close your deal, 
have passed. We try to carry a matter through witli us, under our 
system in the south, in from five days to ten days. If there is no 
trouble with the title, we can usually carry it out within ten days In 



16 

almost every instance, and sometimes do it within five. If we are 
overburdened with work, it takes a little more time. But the system 
would permit, if we could follow an order through without allowing 
it to be sidetracked anywhere or to fall by the way, by reason of pres- 
sure of other business, that almost any kind of an examination should 
be closed within ten days, aud when we close it, it is closed, that is, 
the whole matter is finished, it is not a mere abstract which has to 
go out and remain with some lawyer, so that he may dream over it 
a week or ten days or three weeks or even more. The celerity of 
modern business, the modern method of progression, the modern 
method which requires that we shall do today or tomorrow the 
things that belong to today or tomorrow, and not pass them on, is the 
method that requires this development and improvement in our 
system. 

Away out on the western point of the city of Seattle, jutting out 
into the Sound, that magnificent body of water that wraps the city 
round about, is a point that was called by the Indians "Al Ki Point." 
The Indian signification of that word is "bye-and-bye." Years ago 
they fixed that name upon the point. Bye-and-bye a city came, bye- 
and-bye a city has been located there. But the Indians dream and 
dream and dream. Modern business will not permit us to name any 
part of our business as "Al Ki." It is not bye-and-bye with us. 

It is now. Into the business offices that you go now, you will find 
hung the legend "Do it now." Celerity, promptness, expedition, safety 
on the part of the abstract men, the title men of this country, is 
something that they must adapt themselves to in the onward march 
of events, to the end that they shall give to the consumer a system 
which shall more fitly represent the progressive order of things than 
is at present in vogue. 

I think that is all I have to say to you, gentlemen, by way of 
annual address. These are some ideas that I have had in my mind, 
and I believe they are in the mind of nearly every title man in the 
country, and they are presented to you with the profound conviction 
that it is up to us to "beat the Torrens system to it", if we are to 
continue along the line of prosperity in our chosen profession. And 
it is a profession, if we make it such. It is part of our duty to take 
this matter into consideration, and to ponder upon it and to act 
upon it. 

Gentlemen, I thank you. (Applause.) 

MR. McCARTIIT : What is the estimated cost in the examination 
required in the Torrens system? 

THE PRESIDENT : It depends a good deal upon who makes the 
estimate. The Torrens system's friends claim that it can be made for 
only a few dollars. They fail to take, or refuse to take into account, 
the cost of the books and the cost of maintenance to the general 
public. They only figure what the individual has to pay to the regis- 
trar, and the fees are usually fixed by law. Th* cost is a matter 
really not yet determined. But the best estimates, both from England 
and Australia, and from Chicago, where the larg3st amount of regis- 



17 

tration has occurred, is that it is vastly in excess, talking of the 
cost, of the cost of certifying title and the transfer of the same 1 <der 
the ordinary method now in vogue. That has been brought to their 
attention, and a good many of the advocates hav.^ answered it by 
stating that it is only in its infancy yet, and with time, things will 
smooth out and it will cost less. But it has been abandoned .n many 
cases because of the excessive cost of keeping up. That is saying 
nothing of the danger that attends it. 

MR. RIXFORD: About what does it cost, Mr. Gates, for your 
company to issue its ordinary certificate of title? 

THE PRESIDENT: Our charges, Mr. Rixford, are based upon 
two things. Originally we missed fire on one thing : We did not take 
into account the value of the property, and we wrote a certificate, 
simply certifying the title without reference to the value of the 
property or to the risk which we ran, basing it solely upon the amount 
of work we had to perform. We found that that was illogical and 
unbusinesslike. We now seek to base a charge upon the amount of 
risk which we incur and the amount of work to be performed. In 
writing a certificate upon a lot worth $2000, say, where the amount 
of work is not excessive, if it is a chain of title which is not more 
than fifteen or twenty or thirty instruments in length, the < barge 
would be anywhere from $15 to $25. If it were worth $10,000, the 
charge would be something like $75, because we charge then for the 
increased responsibility, the risk, as any other insurance, because a 
certificate of title becomes in effect an insurance. 

MR. VAUGHAN : Does not the public insist \ipon a schedule of 
rates, as they do in the case of abstracts? 

THE PRESIDENT: No, they do not. The price to be paid for 
the certificate is a matter of contract, and the man who has a cer- 
tificate to be made usually comes to the company and asks what it 
will cost. We ask him what the property is worth — that is one of the 
first questions asked him — and then we look at our books and see how 
much work is to be performed, and we make every price according to 
the circumstances relating to that particular piece of work. We en- 
deavor to get about fifty cents for the examination of each instru- 
ment, in addition to $5 to $10 a thousand for each thousand of value. 
Policies of insurance are based upon much the same rate, except that 
they are higher — it is a better form of assurance, and worth more. 



Certificates of Title versus Abstracts 

By James N. Watson, of the Solano County Abstract Company. 

THE PRESIDENT : The next upon the programme is an address 
by my fellow traveler who has just returned from the north with me, 
Mr. James N. Watsou, manager of the Solano County Abstract Co., 
of Fairfield, California, whom I now introduce to you. (Applause.) 

MR. WATSON: Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen— As Mr. 
Gates has told you, I have just returned from Seattle. Upon return- 
ing to my office yesterday, 1 fcund a letter from Mr. Carmany. want- 
ing to know what my subject would be, and also a letter from Mr. 
Bacon. I really did not know for the moment what subjeel I should 
talk on, or what kind of a paper 1 should prepare, and M wass after 
12 o'clock last night when I determined upon the matter, So yoxx may 



18 

accept the paper for what it is, considering the short time I have 
spent on it. I am going to follow out very much the line of thought 
that Mr. Gates has suggested here. Our company is a small one, 
located about fifty miles north of San Francisco. We have Spanish 
grants in our records dating back to 1840, and we have all the hard 
and knotty things to deal with on the subject of land titles that you 
have here in the city. Property in most cases is cheap, and the cost 
of abstracts is very high, owing to the voluminous number of trans- 
fers, and the amount of litigation. It has been very hard considering 
the great expenditure necessary in putting in a plant, to get anything 
like wages for the work of preparing an abstract. 

For my siibject, I have taken "Certificates of Title Versus Ab- 
stracts." 

Abstracts of title are practically a thing of the past. They date 
back beyond the discovery of America. 

There are many definitions for an abstract of title, but in my judg- 
ment nothing is more comprehensive than a witness. Now the ques- 
tion arises, What kind of a witness is this abstract you are about to 
examine? Mr. Rixford recently had a "witness" from our county that 
he had a great time trying to examine. Is it a good, clean, clear, 
concise statement (like that of an intelligent human witness) of all 
the facts, or is it like one of those base, ignorant, incomprehensible 
witnesses which we have all seen on the witness-stano", from whom no 
counsel, judge or jury can obtain sufficient facts of material value? 
Of course, it is not always the fault of the abstract company ; it is 
merely the record ; but in nine cases out of ten the abstract company 
is in possession of certain facts of which the ordinary examiner knows 
nothing, consequently he is at sea, and in many instances the ex- 
aminer has a very vague idea how he should proceed to perfect the 
title — I am not after the attorneys at all — the above facts are gen- 
erally known to title men — and usually he has to consult with the 
parties who compiled the abstract. This means delay, and delay 
means disaster to the parties wishing to sell or borrow. 

The examiner must necessarily have practiced from fifteen to 
twenty years to attain the general knowledge that the abstracter 
usually acquires in three or four years. Why? Because the ab- 
stracter will make at least one abstract a day, while the attorney will 
not see more than three or four abstracts a month. Hence, the ab- 
stract company with an up-to-date plant, skilled searchers, and a 
good attorney, can prepare a search and opinion in less time and with 
more accuracy than can be obtained by first preparing an abstract 
and then securing the opinion of an attorney on the same. I might 
say, we are using the same forms that Mr. Gates left at Sacramento 
some two years ago, and it has only been within the last year that 
we have been issuing certificates. 

How we introduced certificates in our county : We selected a title 
which had many irregularities, prepared our search showing the con- 
dition of each and every instrument, wrote our findings on the title 



19 

page thereof, making exception to all the incumbrances and ir- 
regularities; then from this we prepared our final certificate, took it 
to our attorneys, sat in hank with them on the title; then showed 
them our findings and then the certificate — a finished product. 

They at once accepted our certificate, realizing at the start that 

it was not our intention to take the work out of their hands, but in- 

ir having to examine thirty or forty pages of an abstract, 

they could see at a glance the exact conditions and knew full well 

that they could obtain just as much from their clients to perfect the 

they could obtain after a long and tedious examination. 

Another thing we find, I might remark here, is that when an ab- 
stract is taken to an attorney, and he finds the title good, a client 
does not expect to pay him the same as if he had found some irregu- 
larities or objections. And in many cases I have known where the 
attorney has found discrepancies, so that he might charge a good, 
round fee for his services. The general public does not take into con- 
sideration that it is just as hard to check up an abstract, figure out 
the interests, and find title, as it is if there is an irregularity or 
omission in it. 

The true meaning of an abstract of title is understood by a com- 
parative few. In our couuty the population is largely Portuguese. 
After procuring an abstract they walk away with it under their arms, 
with a broad smile and with the vague notion that it is their title, 
and that the title is perfect because they have succeeded in procur- 
ing an abstract. Abstracts in our county have been used in this 
manner for the past thirty years, and they never think of obtaining 
a lawyer's opinion on the same. A few weeks ago we prepared a 
certificate of title to a certain lot in our county seat town. We took 
exception to a homestead which had stood on the property for about 
forty years. During my absence and while in Seattle, I was informed 
by our Superior Judge that the party owning the property called at 
our office one morning, shot-gun in hand, looking for myself. He ex- 
plained to his Honor that Jim Watson had spoiled his title ; that he 
had lived on the property for three years, payed all the taxes, and it 
was all right until be, Watson, spoiled it. The fact is. that had an ab- 
stract been made, no doubt it would have been tendered and accepted 
without examination, and that one of our local attorneys would have 
been $50 out of pocket. He is now suing to quiet title. 

Only a few months ago, a minister of the gospel, a man of aver- 
age intelligence, requested us to make an abstract and insisted that 
wo must make the property appear with a perfect title. I took him 
to task by asking him if he had ever met a perfect man. He left 
our office, wiser if not richer. 

The certificate of title is the only practical means yet devised for 
dispatch in the transfer of real property. For instance, take an ab- 
stract office with equipment and working force, with a capacity of, 
say. one Corty-page abstract per day. This means typing for two 



ordinary stenographers, a searcher and draftsman combined, while 
the same force, although more competent assistance is necessary, can 
make three certificates in the same space of time, involving title of 
the same size. Consequently the certificate can be made in just one- 
third the time of an abstract. Then, too, your client cannot argue 
with you that there were just so many pages and that you charged 
so much. They have no idea how long it took or how many instru- 
ments, probate or civil proceedings, were examined. 

We find the issuance of certificates very much more profitable and 
with very little more risk than that of an abstract, and most of our 
attorneys are too busy to waste time examining a voluminous ab- 
stract. We have a schedule of rates for abstracts. But not on cer- 
tificates, and the client cannot tell anything about the time expended 
or the size of the abstract, and we make our charges very much as 
Mr. Gates has said they make theirs in the South, according to the 
amount of work and the value of the property. We find less trouble 
in collecting and getting a just compensation for our services with the 
certificates than we do under the abstract system. 

Of course, we have met with some opposition, but those who fought 
our certificates hardest are now our best friends, for they (the at- 
torneys) soon discovered that the certificate was demanded by their 
clients, and if they refused the certificates and demanded an ab- 
stract, the client lost no time in securing an attorney who would 
accept it. 

When the owners of real estate realize that they can obtain a 
certificate for less money and with less delay, they are going to in- 
sist on getting the certificate. 

Recently we have had many calls for abstracts and certificates on 
the same property by the same person at the same time. They ex- 
plain that the abstract shows all the transfers and that the certifi- 
cate is our opinion on the same. 

A local attorney, a few days ago, in our office, advised his client 
to purchase a certain piece of land, stating that the title to the same 
was good. His client immediately told him that he would have noth- 
ing to do with the same until after we had issued our certificate. 
This was quite an embarrassing situation, because the attorney 
happened to know. He had had a good deal of experience with that 
particular property, and he was quite put out at the time. But the 
fellow said no money would pass until we issued our certificate 
No argument on our part would induce this party to do anything 
until we had first passed out the certificate. 

Certificates of title have come to stay, and the abstract company 
that refuses to issue them will find itself in the background in the 
very near future. I thank you. (Applause.) 

MR. RIXFORD : Mr. President, the remarks of yourself and Mr. 
Watson raise a question in my mind with regard to the facility of 
getting out a certificate of title as compared with the time that it 



21 

takes on a policy of title insurance. Mr. Carmany and myself under- 
stand this : In our practice here, we have a plant, and everything in 
our plant is perhaps made up in complete abstracts down to a certain 
time. Since that time, all new instruments that go on record affect- 
ing the title are of course posted against the land — you all under- 
stand that. What I waut to find out is, What is your particular 
process in that connection? Your plant, I presume, is made up in 
the same way? 

THE PRESIDENT : Yes. 

MR. RIXFORD : For instance, you are asked to make a cer- 
tificate of title to a given lot of land. You go to your foundation ab- 
stracts, perhaps, then you go to your posting books to get all the rest 
of the conveyances and instruments affecting it. You abstract them 
and put them in the abstract form, or have you somebody who is 
competent to take those things and pass upon them without reducing 
them to abstract form? That is a question, of course, that has a very 
important influence on the matter of time. You catch my idea? 

THE PRESIDENT: Answering for myself, we regard in our 
plant that possibly the most valuable part of the plant is the informa- 
tion which we have gathered from time to time as we have gone on in 
the transaction of our business. We have, not an abstract in our 
office, but we have really a set of property indexes. When we have 
examined the title to a tract of land that has been subdivided, we 
write what we know as an office abstract, or an office certificate, or 
a base title statement, which will show the condition of the title at 
the time of the subdivision, we will say, of that particular tract of 
land, that it was then all vested in John Jones. We would post that 
certificate to the property, to that tract. If an order comes for a cer- 
tificate upon a lot in that tract, we go to that certificate and start 
from that point, and make our examination from that date, not an 
abstract, but it is a certificate which is made. We will then go to 
the books and make up a chain of title upon sheets which are pre- 
pared specially for the purpose, wherein the grantor, the grantee, 
the instrument, the date of recording, and the certificate are shown, 
and we place each separate instrument on a separate sheet. That is 
made up by what we know as our chain-maker. The chain-maker 
turns it over, then, to the searcher, and the searcher goes over the 
books again to verify the work of the chain-maker, to see that he has 
on the chain of title all the instruments that affect it. The searcher 
then goes to the Courthouse, goes to the original records, wherever 
they are, and he makes, not an abstract, but upon blanks which I am 
sorry I have not here, because they would exemplify more fully 
than my words will do, how he is able very quickly to make an office 
abstract of such instruments as relate to that title from the date of 
the statement with which he begins — upon such blanks, he makes 
such notes as amount to an office abstract of that kind. He is re- 
quired to show the property, if the description is correct, and if there 
is any variation he notes that; he is obliged to show that the signa- 
tures arc correct, what sort of a deed it is, whether grant or quit 
claim, whether any reservations or additions arc inserted therein, 
and, if they arc. he sets them out in full; whether it is properly 
signed and properly acknowledged. Of course, the searchers are 
skilled men. That becomes a chain of title in which the questions 
pertinent and important as to substantial parts of the instruments are 
all answered by "Yes" or "No", showing that his attention is directed 
to the very material parts of the instrument. lb' makes that chain, 
and does it very quickly, upon blanks. In probably live or ten minutes 
he can examine an ordinary instrument and make his notations so 



22 

that it is perfectly intelligible to the examiner, who follows him. 
After he has examined that way, in pencil, all the instruments af- 
fecting the title, he returns to the office, and at his desk writes up 
the title as he conceives it to be. That is, it is his estimate of the 
title. He writes it just as an attorney would write his certificate, 
and turns that over then to what we know as our examiner. An ex- 
aminer takes it and looks over the entire chain. He does that as Mr. 
Itixford would do with an abstract handed to him. He would glance 
over it — he can do it quickly because of the method that has been 
used — and if he finds that the searcher has properly written the cer- 
tificate, he marks it "O K", or "Approved", and it then goes to the 
copyist and it is written up in its finished form. 

MR. RIXFORD : The searcher, then, certifies any encumbrance 
that appears? 

THE PRESIDENT : Yes. He puts everything on his chain, and 
if there are any unsatisfied encumbrances, he writes them into his 
certificate. The examiner does not have to write the certificate at 
all, unless he desires to change it. Sometimes, in fact, in the great 
majority of instances, the searcher is correct, because, as I said, our 
searchers are all skilled men and selected for that purpose. But the 
examiner is an exceptionally skilled man, an older man selected for 
his fitness and ability and acumen as well as experience. Sometimes 
the examiner has to rewrite the certificate, because he does not agree 
with the searcher at all. When there is a distinct point of difference, 
or some question arises, that is usually submitted to the law depart- 
ment, which does nothing but to answer questions. That depart- 
ment has the easiest job in the office — as Mr. Rixford will under- 
stand. When the examiner has finished it, he turns it over to the 
copyist and the copyist makes the copy. Instead of a finished abstract, 
we have that abstract, prepared in that way, and every certificate 
written, we post to the property. That is posted in a different kind 
of ink, so that if we are asked to write a certificate of title today 
upon a lot that we wrote a certificate of title upon last week, we can 
write the certificate, probably, without doing anything more than 
copying the instrument we had written the week before, making sure 
that nothing has been placed of record in the meantime, and charging 
full price if he doesn't know of it — you see we charge for having it. 
I remember that years ago we had a customer who had a large or- 
chard upon which we had written a certificate, and as to which no 
transfer had been made since the writing of that certificate. When 
the second certificate was desired, we charged the price for writing 
the certificate, and he insisted that we should make that a mere 
nominal price, because we had certified the title to him before. He 
argued, "Why, Gates, you can write that title. It won't cost you 
three dollars. You know all about it. Look at your hooks, and see 
that there is no change, and all you have to do is to dictate a certifi- 
cate." I said "I know that you have owned that property Home three 
years." It was a very fine orange orchard, and I knew he hod sold 
oranges off of it in the three years sufficient to pay for the land 
twice. I said to him, "You have got all your money back in the three 
years that you have been there. Now are you going to give the land 
away, because you have got your money back?" He would not agree 
to do that, and he therefore agreed that we might charge a reason- 
able fee for our certificate of title. That is a disgression, however, 
from Mr. Rixford's question. 

MR. RIXFORD : Your explanation is quite lucid. Your system 
is different from ours. We do have our searchers put it in the form 



of an abstract. But after all, your system is tantamount to that. 
We go direct from the searcher to the attorney. Our searcher does 
find a fee and reports it in the abstract, and that is the way he gives 
it to us. 

THE PRESIDENT: That is practically the same as our plan, 
except that I should say, as to one thing, that the law department 
proper examines all court proceedings, we examine all the law pro- 
ceedings, and we have referred to us all questions of law or doubtful 
questions respecting the vesting of titles. But the examiners are in 
effect lawyers, also, to the extent of the field which they cover. 

MR. RIXFORD : I think the result is practically our own, and the 
purpose of the question was to see if we could facilitate our reports 
any by the adoption of your system. 

THE PRESIDENT : Do you wish to say anything upon that sub- 
ject. Mr. Watson? 

MR. WATSON: Nothing more particularly than that the printed 
blanks are there and the questions are there to be answered. We 
practically have an abstract in pencil because they are there and ar- 
ranged in order and according to date, and it amounts to the same 
thing, but there is less work. It is done with greater dispatch by 
having these questions answered "Yes" or "No". When they come 
back and you sit down to make your examination, you know exactly 
what the situation is at a glance, and if there is an irregularity, it 
is noted, so that you have that, too. 

THE PRESIDENT: I may say this in connection with that. 
Possibly the weakest link in our chain is the examination of the in- 
struments by the searcher. There is nothing to check him — nobody 
goes over that part of the work so as to verify what he does. But, 
knowing that, and knowing, too, that the tenure of office of the 
searcher depends upon his accuracy and correctness, he 
is very careful indeed in making that examination, and we rarely 
find a mistake. It is true, gentlemen, that abstracters sometimes 
make mistakes. The only people who are invariably right are the 
owners of property. 

MR. RIXFORD : We have one system of checks with us. For in- 
stance, the daily work is taken off, and that is very carefully com- 
pared, and the searcher ought to compare that daily work and also 
compare the work with the recorded instruments. There is a check 
if they will only do it. But sometimes they get in a hurry, and do 
not do it. 



Country Abstracts 

Address by E. H. Rixford, Attorney and former Manager of the Cali- 
fornia Title Insurance and Trust Company of San Francisco. 

THE PRESIDENT: I know that you gentlemen will all concur with 
me when I say that we shall now be very glad indeed to hear from 
Mr. E. II. Rixford, who has taken a large part in all of our pro- 
grammes :uh1 exercises, and an active interest respecting wiiat we are 
doing elsewhere. lie is the head of the law department of the Cali- 
fornia Title Insurance and Trust Company, and is a recognized au- 
thority upon title matters. Ladies and gentlemen, permit mo to pre- 
sent to you Mr. Rixford. (Applause.) 



24 

MR. RIXFORD : In treating the subject of "Country Abstracts", 
I take it from the standpoint of an attorney who is examining an 
abstract which is made in a remote county. That is the reason why, 
as compared with any other abstract which we have here, we call it 
a country abstract. 

You gentlemen of the remote counties will make an abstract, possi- 
bly, for the use of an attorney close at hand, or you make an abstract 
to come to San Francisco, to be examined by an attorney here. If 
you are making an abstract to send to us here, of course you keep 
in mind, and you must keep in mind, that we have not access to the 
original records. If any question arises as to the correctness of an in- 
strument or the sufficiency of a judgment-roll, we cannot go and look 
at it — it is a physicial impossibility. Therefore, we are obliged to 
rely absolutely upon the abstract as we receive it from you. There 
are cases, with which no doubt all of you gentlemen are quite 
familiar, in which an attorney near at hand will ask you to leave out 
a great many things, saying that he knows all about them. He is ac- 
quainted with your local conditions. But that we cannot do. The 
question may arise in your mind, then, whether under any circum- 
stances it will be safe for you to leave out the things suggested. You 
do not know into whose hands that abstract may afterwards fall. It 
it all right for the man who can examine on the ground, but it may 
get into the hands of a man who is remote from your records, and the 
result may be disastrous to him and to you. So perhaps it is a ques- 
tion for you to decide whether it is wise to make an abstract which 
might be called a purely local abstract. 

It is useless for me to attempt to go into the definition of an ab- 
stract. We all understand what it is. But the form in which the ab- 
stract comes to the attorney is of great importance to him. If we 
pick up an abstract, its general appearance has a great deal to do 
with the confidence which it inspires. In glancing it over, if we see 
it is put together in a sloppy manner, and the typewriting is full of 
errors (and I take it for granted that all abstracts are made on type- 
writers today), we immediately become suspicious, and we do not 
feel satisfied. That is one reason why I would like to impress upon 
you now to be careful how your work looks when it leaves your 
office. Do not let it look sloppy. 

This brings up the question of the arrangement of an abstract. 
There are many ways of arranging the instruments which you take 
off and which you abstract. Perhaps the usual way is to arrange all 
instruments affecting the title chronologically. Another way is to 
arrange them in the order of the date of record. But at all events, 
which ever way you do, you ought to be systematic. I have had ab- 
stracts in my hands, in fact have one in my mind which I had not 
very long ago, consisting of perhaps nearly two hundred pages, with- 
out an index, and nothing consecutive — it seemed thrown together 



25 

helter-skelter. I am not referring to the one from your county, Mr. 
Watson. There would be old mortgages in it, and after wading 
through fifteen or twenty pages, we would find something that looked 
like a release. 

Right there it seems to me is a safe departure from the chrono- 
logical order in an abstract. Why is it not proper to put a release 
immediately after the mortgage? That is the natural order. And 
I would suggest that you there depart from the chronological ar- 
rangement. As I said before, you may arrange the abstract accord- 
ing to the dates of the instruments, or, with these little exceptions, 
according to the dates of the record. But there is one thing I would 
like to impress upon you not to do, and that is, after you have pre- 
pared all the sheets of the abstract and have abstracted every instru- 
ment and document that affects the title, to take them in your hands 
and shuffle them as you would a pack of cards, add a tax sheet, and 
then throw them into a cover, and in that shape deliver it to the at- 
torney. It may seem impossible to some of you, but they come that 
way to us too often. And I must say that when I get hold of an ab- 
stract of that kind, I wish the man who made the abstract were in 
my presence, that I might hurl the thing at his head. 

Aside from the question of arrangement of the abstract, it may 
be worth while to say a little something about what an abstract of 
an instrument or document should contain. I take it that the ab- 
stract should clearly show the legal effect of every instrument in it. 
If it is an abstract of an ordinary deed, any searcher usually could 
pass upon it. But suppose there is an unusual consideration in that 
deed. It may be a deed from a corporation, and there are recitals of 
a consideration which are invalid. I have in my mind today a case 
of that kind, where a deed was made by a corporation for a very 
peculiar consideration, and when that original deed was submitted to 
a well-versed attorney in San Francisco, he said "According to the 
decisions of the Supreme Court, that consideration is void." Suppos- 
ing that deed has gone into an abstract, and the abstracter puts in 
the names and the date and acknowledgment, etc., and he puts in 
something in the way of consideration, and then adds to that "&c". 
The "&c" leaves out a very material part of the language. I merely 
mention that as an instance, in order to have you gentlemen careful, 
if you are not already so. If there is anything unusual, out of the 
ordinary, let us have it, and let us pass upon its legal effect. 

I do not believe in the padding of abstracts for the sake of charg- 
ing for it or for the sake of enabling attorneys to charge more for 
examining it. What we want to get at is the result and the tacts. 
to that end. An abstract may contain a series of instruments, deeds. 
Everyone of those deeds may have an identical description. I do not 
think it is worth while always to repeat that description over and 
over again. But you might refer back to the Instrument which con- 
tains the same description. The fact is a matter of judgment for 



26 

you. We do not care very much about that, one way or the other, 
unless it is a very long description, which necessitates a comparison 
with a plat. 

I would like to add one word in regard to that matter of referring 
to an instrument in the abstract. You all know that in examining a 
title you are frequently obliged to refer back to something that has 
gone before, you have read a deed, you have read an instrument of 
some kind, and you want to look at it again. Without any index, 
how are you going to find it? Here is an abstract of two or three 
hundred pages, it is not arranged chronologically, in fact, it is not ar- 
ranged at all, it is only a disarrangement. In order to find that in- 
strument, you have got to wade through the whole thing, merely be- 
cause you have not an index. If you had the index, you would refer 
to it. Not only is the index valuable in that way, gentlemen, but it 
is a very valuable check upon the work. We sometimes feel as if we 
ought to go through the index to see if everything is in the abstract 
itself. It may have gone through several hands. I have in mind a 
case in San Francisco where a man took out one of the pages of an 
abstract and omitted a mortgage shown therein, and the consequence 
was he was able to go to another party and get auother loan on the 
same property. We are careful about those things, of course. But 
in regard to referring back from one instrument to another, if you 
do make a reference in an abstract to a preceding instrument, please 
do not simply say "Book so-and-so, page so-and-so", because there is 
nothing in the index of the abstract about "Book and page". Just 
say, if you please, that it is on such-and-such a page of the abstract. 
That will help us out a great deal. We have, indeed, to talk to our 
own searchers a good deal about that very thing. 

I have already said something about the general appearance of 
the abstract, and I hope that you gentlemen who are in the abstract 
business will be careful to have somebody carefully read over the 
typewriting. We get abstracts too often where the typographical 
work is very bad, is full of mistakes in the figures and names. It is 
too often the case, simply because you have not had somebody to 
compare the typewriter's work with the instruments. 

I have already said about as much as it is necessary to say con- 
cerning the arrangement of the abstract, but I would like to accentu- 
ate it and say that there is nothing more disgusting to the lawyer 
than to get one of those abstracts that has absolutely no arrange- 
ment whatever, but is just as if it came out of a shot-gun. 

With regard to the form of putting an instrument abstracted 
into the abstract, there is but very little I need to say. You know 
very well that when a deed is abstracted, we want, first, the title 
of the instrument — if it is a deed, call it a deed, and if a mortgage, 
call it a mortgage — we like to have the word "Deed", the date of 
the acknowledgment, and the date and place of record. Those are all 
simple. The ordinary deed does not require any particular examina- 



27 

tion as to its validity, outside of what I have already referred to — 
those are enough. But when you come to the acknowledgment, that 
is a matter of a good deal of importance, not so much, however, as 
it used to be. You will remember that in times past, the Legis- 
lature of the State more than once passed what we call curative acts. 
You know, gentlemen, of course, that if an instrument is not acknowl- 
edged as the law requires, it is not entitled to record, and if it is on 
record, it is not notice to anybody, and you cannot use that record in 
evidence to substantiate the title. The first act that I recollect on that 
head was an act which provided that where an instrument was im- 
properly executed, or the acknowledgment was invalid and not ac- 
cording to the form of law, nevertheless the record of such an in- 
strument should be notice. That was good as far as it went. That 
would prevent one man who had sold the property from selling it to 
another, where the title was invalid, because the third person, buying 
the land, is bound by the notice of the fact that this man has already 
sold it to somebody else. So far so good. But it did not go far 
enough. The next step in the line of curative acts was a statute 
passed along early in the 60's, and eventually got into the Code, which 
provided that where there was a defective execution and bad acknowl- 
ment, not only should the record of the instrument be notice, but it 
also provided that the record, or a certified copy of that, might be 
used in evidence. But they always put in a joker, to this effect: "pro- 
viding it first be shown that the instrument is genuine." That took 
away the whole effect of the curative act. I believe, in my own expe- 
rience, I have had but one case where there was a defect of that kind, 
and the party happened to have the deed in his possession. Now, you 
see you could not use such a record as that, and if you had a defec- 
tive acknowledgment there, you could not prove the title by the 
record, unless you first proved the genuineness of the instrument. 

Fortunately, however, along about 1903, Section 1207, Civil Code, 
was amended in a manner that has relieved us of a great deal of 
difficulty in that way. The matter was taken up and discussed with 
one of our Code Commissioners, Mr. Freeman, and in discussing it 
with him, it was suggested that there should be something 
making those records absolutely good after a certain time. The 
objection raised by the Legislature was that there was danger of 
forgeries. I said, "What danger is there in the forgery of a deed 
that is thirty years or forty years old? There is not any. Make 
some kind of a provision, I do not care if you make it forty, or thirty, 
or twenty years, but some kind of a provision of that sort." The 
result of the whole thing wns an amendment of Section 1207, Civil 
Code, with which, of course, you gentlemen are familiar. I take the 
liberty of reading a portion of it: "Any instrument affecting real 
"property, which was, previous to the first day of January, one 
" thousand nine hundred and three (now 1909), copied into the proper 
" book of record, kept in the office of any county recorder, imparts, 
" after that date, notice of its contents to subsequent purchasers and 



" encumbrancers, notwithstanding any defect, omission, or informality 
" in the execution of the instrument, or in the certificates of ac- 
" knowledgment thereof, or the absence of any such certificates ; 
" nothing herein affects the rights of purchasers or encumbrancers 
"previous to that date."" And here is the nut of the whole thing: 
" Duly certified copies of the record of any such instrument may be 
" read in evidence with like effect as copies of an instrument duly 
" acknowledged and recorded ; provided, when such copying in the 
"proper book of record occurred within fifteen years prior to the 
" trial of the action, it is first shown that the original instrument was 
*' genuine." 

That is, of course, plain enough. When you get to the trial of a 
case, and run against a record which is bad and defective, that is 
fifteen years old, you may absolutely disregard the defects, and that 
record is good evidence. I call attention to that for this reason : 
that any acknowledgment which you may find is bad and which per- 
haps would otherwise render the record void, if it is more than fifteen 
years old, you need not bother yourself so much about it, or even if 
it has not any acknowledgment at all. Is that not correct, Mr. Gates? 

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. 

MR. RIXFORD : That is our construction of the act. 

THE PRESIDENT : And ours. 

MR. RIXFORD : There is another point, however, in connection 
with acknowledgments, that we frequently run against in San Fran- 
cisco, and perhaps you do in the country, and that is where an in- 
strument has been executed and acknowledged in another State than 
in the State of California. You know under our law, an instrument 
is not entitled to record here unless it is acknowledged substantially 
according to our form — it does not require rigid compliance, but sub- 
stantial compliance. But there are many States whose form does not 
come up to ours. 

MR. VAUGHAN : Will you permit a question there? You are 
speaking about an acknowledgment recorded for fifteen years. What 
would be your attitude if it had been recorded, as a matter of fact, 
but the record destroyed, as were your records here in this city? 

MR. RIXFORD : If the record is destroyed, you certainly cannot 
put it in evidence. 

MR. VAUGHAN : If you have an abstract, an old abstract, that 
showed such a record? 

MR. RIXFORD : I see the drift of your remark. My own judg- 
ment is, that if the court has secondary evidence, it would admit it, 
notwithstanding the defect, because it is an abstract of that record 
and takes the place of it. In other words, it is secondary evidence of 
that record. 

We frequently get deeds and other instruments from other States. 
aeknowleged according to the laws of that State. Sections 1189 of 
our Civil Code, as it formerly stood, after giving the purport of the 
certificate of acknowledgment, provided "that any such aeknowledg- 



29 

" rnent taken without this State in accordance with the laws of the 
" place where the acknowledgment is made, shall be sufficient in this 
" State". That was all very well. Where the law read like that, and 
nothing more, we were then compelled to examine the law of the 
State from which that certificate came, and, in examining the law 
of that State, if we satisfied ourselves that it was according to the 
law of that State, we used to pass it. Unfortunately, in 1897 a pro- 
viso was added to that section which has caused more or less discus- 
sion among the lawyers in San Francisco : "provided, however, that 
" any acknowledgment taken without this State in accordance with 
" the laws of the place where the acknowledgment is made, shall be 
" sufficient in this State ; and provided, further, that the certificate of 
" the clerk of a court of record of the county or district where such 
" acknowledgment is taken, that the officer certifying to the same is 
" authorized by law so to do, and that the signature of the said officer 
" to said certificate is his true and genuine signature, and that such 
" acknowledgment is taken in accordance with the laws of the place 
" where the same is made, shall be prima facie evidence of the facts 
" stated in the certificate of said clerk." Our interpretation of that 
section is that an acknowledgment taken out of the State, not in ac- 
cordance with the form of California, is bad, unless you have the 
certificate of the clerk right up to that article. When you have got 
that, there is no question about it. I call your attention to that, 
gentlemen, because you may run across some of those acknowledg- 
ments, and if you do, I hope you will send me the full certificate of 
the clerk. 

Very little need be said, of course, in regard to the abstracts of 
suits and judgment-rolls. We would like to have you put in plain 
language what the cause of action is, and if there was a default, that 
information, and we would like to have the evidence of service of 
summons. Do not say. "Served ; default", but let us know what the 
service was, how it was served, and on whom it was served. We 
would like to have all of that. If it is a case of where an answer 
is filed, let enough of the answer appear to show what the issue is in 
the case, and then, after that, a little abstract of the findings and 
the judgment is about all I should require. There may be some more 
put in, but I would like to see about so much. 

In regard to another matter to which I alluded once before, if 
there is any doubt in the mind of an abstracter as to whether a 
clause inserted in a deed or an instrument or anything in a judg- 
ment-roll is doubtful, by all means go on the safe side and put it in 
the abstract. You had better err in putting too much in than too 
little, without adding unnecessary padding, of course. 

We get a great many abstracts from the country where the parcel 
of land under examination is a portion of a large rancho. That is 
very common, indeed. Often times an abstract comes without any 
plats. I have adopted the plan myself of silling down and platting. 
It takes a long time, and it is too much work to impose upon the 



30 

lawyer when you have before you in your own county the plats, but 
I have done it rather than not have them. We would like very much 
to have you put in enough of the plat, for instance, to show that the 
parcel in question is a part of the larger tract which j r ou have men- 
tioned before. I do not need to say much on that, as you will, of 
course, catch the idea. 

There is another subject which is a fruitful subject in connection 
with the making of abstracts, and I consider it one of the most im- 
portant of all, and that is the proper abstracting of probate pro- 
ceedings. But I see that at 2:30 tomorrow afternoon there is an 
address to be delivered on the subject of "Abstract of Probate Pro- 
ceedings" by Mr. Leech, of the Title Insurance and Guaranty Com- 
pany, and it would not be fair for me to say anything on that subject, 
because I have no doubt that he will give it full and fair treatment. 

I would like to add one word before closing, gentlemen, and that 
is this : that abstracts have very much improved in the last twenty- 
five or thirty-five years in San Francisco. I see gentlemen around 
me now who are in the business of abstracting, and who produce good 
abstracts, which it is a pleasure to handle. Yet there are some of the 
old ones left, and I hope some of them are here to hear what 
I say. If they are, I would like to say to them, "For Heaven's sake, 
don't send us any more of your abnominally slouchy abstracts". (Ap- 
plause.) 

MR. WATSON : I would like to qualify Mr. Rixford's statement 
by saying that that abstract did come from our county. We admit 
that it came from our county, but it was not our work. 

MR. RIXFORD : I would like to say for Mr. Watson that that 
abstract was a bad one, but he took it up and made a new one which 
was first-class. 

THE PRESIDENT: We have done a good many things in the 
South that were wrong, we have been sowing the wind down there 
and we are beginning to reap the whirlwind in some directions, and 
possibly there are others that I have not yet discovered. Our con- 
veyancers, those who plat and subdivide property, have placed recently 
a great many conditions, restrictions, reservations, etc., in their deeds, 
and they are constructed in a manner and form that would enable 
them to fall down and worship them without violating any of the 
Commandments, because they resemble nothing on the earth or in the 
heavens above or the waters beneath. They represent the ingenuity 
of a man who has had some fantastic notion as to how he wanted his 
property used. In abstracting such things, we find it necessary to 
have the abstracter use the exact language of the conveyance, in 
order to place the matter properly before us. Conditions or restric- 
tions I believe ought to be set out in full, and Mr. Rixford's injunction 
to set out more rather than less is one that you ought to keep in mind, 
in such a case. The only result or penalty which will be visited upon 
you for putting too much in the abstract is a kick on the price. But 
if you put in too little, you may be liable in damages for the omission. 
A good attorney wants an abstract which will enable him, as Mr. 
Rixford says, to gather the full import and legal effect of the instru- 
ment, and sometimes he must have almost the entire instrument, 
when it is abnormal or unusual in form. 



31 



Scattered Observations on the Ab- 
stract of Title 

Paper by Ross E. Pierce, Secretary of Pierce-Bosquit Abstract and 
Title Company of Sacramento. 

THE PRESIDENT : The California Land Title Association owes 
its existence more to the intelligent effort and the vigilant work of 
one man, than to any other in the State of California. That man has 
been active and diligent in the prosecution of the propagation of this 
organization, and he has done more to bring it to its present state, 
and has done more work to keep it going, than has any other person. 
I refer to our Secretary, Mr. Ross E. Pierce, who will now speak to us 
upon some of the questions that beset us at various times. Mr. Pierce. 
(Applause.) 

MR. PIERCE : Mr. President and Gentlemen : While no doubt 
our President thought he was doing me something of a favor in pay- 
ing me a compliment that I cannot say that I deserve, I feel that he 
has somewhat harmed me. My life work since I left school has been 
that of an abstracter. I have missed those opportunities and ad- 
vantages that an attorney has in addressing juries and courts, and in 
talking hot air about his home city, and consequently I am hardly fit 
to make an address, especially since my work has been rather confined 
to office work. My wife said to me before I came down here (this is 
confidential, of course), "Be careful and keep a cool head. You are 
likely to get stage-fright". While I agreed with her, I told her that 
if the audience could stand it, I thought I could. 

To undertake to prepare a paper to read before the abstracters of 
the State, assembled in a convention of this kind, does the one who 
undertakes it in earnestness a world of good. I have no doubt, and 
I say this not by way of joke, that I got more good out of my en- 
deavors to frame something of interest and benefit to you than you 
will by any possibility get by listening to what I have prepared. Not 
being an attorney, and not having had experience in the practice of 
the law and in digging out legal decisions, I may have slipped up here 
and there in that part of my efforts. If I have, I trust that the at- 
torneys among the Association will tell me of these mistakes, so 
that I may further benefit through my efforts. Possibly if they do, I 
will have to change the title of my paper. I have called it "Scattered 
Observations on the Abstract of Title". Maybe when they get through 
with me, I will have to call it "Shattered Observations on the Ab- 
stract of Title". (Laughter.) Sometimes I forget what I remember, 
and sometimes I can't think of what I forget. So I have written it 
down. 

SCATTERED OBSERVATIONS ON THE ABSTRACT OF TITLE. 

Definition. 

An Abstract of Title as generally made in this State is a brief 
or summary showing all the important or material parts of instru- 
ments of title evidence, including liens and Incumbrances, recorded 
in the County Recorder's office and affecting a specific piece of really 



32 

or some particular estate therein. Likewise it includes a notice and 
brief of estates, suits or other proceedings and judgments which 
relate to or encumber said title and appear of record in the County 
Clerk's Office. There should also be a statement of current taxes, 
covering State, County, City and School, Irrigation, Drainage or 
other lesser district. 

Ordinarily the abstracter in gathering material for his handi- 
work does not go out of the County Court House and Hall of Records, 
except it be for city taxes, city street assessments and proceedings 
had in connection therewith. Where patents are not of record or 
errors appear on the face of the County Record thereof, statements 
of entries from the tract books in the United States local or the 
State Land Office, as the case may be, are frequently and properly 
included in the abstract. Abstract companies having offices in 
counties where the Federal Court sits also certify as to judgments 
thereof, which constitute a lien on real property. 

General Observations. 

The care and thought and labor involved in the preparation of 
abstracts of complicated titles frequently amounts to drudgery. An 
Abstracter must have a nice discretion. He must know the basic 
principles of title law. He must be familiar with the doctrine of 
constructive notice. He must know something of the necessary steps 
in all legal proceedings which affect titles. 

It is his duty to search out all the instruments, proceedings and 
entries which relate to titles, and after he has found them, to de- 
termine what are and what are not the operative parts thereof, in 
order that he may set out the one and omit the other. 

Yet, he is not to produce a legal opinion as to the title. He is 
not to say that title of the fee vests in John Doe, subject to certain 
conditions or encumbrances. This duty belongs to the attorney who 
is to examine the abstract after it has become a finished product and 
left the abstracter's hand. Indeed, the abstracter must ever be on 
his guard to keep within the strict confines of his own business, and 
not tread on the examining counsel's toes by passing legal judg- 
ment on any of the matters disclosed in the search. 

While the basic principle involved in the preparation of abstracts 
as here stated is pretty generally accepted, strange as it may seem, the 
abstracts as prepared by the various companies, both in this state 
and abroad differ widely. Recognizing this fact it has been one of 
the fundamental purposes of all State (and the American) Associa- 
tions of Abstracters or Title Men, as expressed in their constitutions, 
to secure uniform methods in compiling abstracts and certifying 
titles. 

Lack of Uniformity. 

Along the Atlantic Seaboard, abstracts are as a rule little more 
than mere tabular index references to the documents in the chain, 



33 

following closely the long established precedent of the solicitor's 
abstracts in England. They do not seek to show the complete chain, 
but generally begin with some deed some forty or fifty years prior to 
date. As we come Westward the scope of the abstract with reference 
to the material disclosed is broader. Chicago may be called an 
abstract center. Some of the largest title concerns of the country 
are located there. It is the home of Warvelle, one of the most emi- 
nent authorities on abstracts. Another author prominent in title 
circles hails from there, Wm. C. Niblack. Chicago title men pride 
themselves on the fullness and completeness of their abstracts. 
Judging solely by comparisons of the copies of abstracts produced 
in the Great Lake Region with those of this state, I am opinioned 
that the forms used in the far West are fuller than those used in 
Chicago. 

Here a complete abstract begins with the very foundation of title 
and seeks to include enough of the record evidence to enable the 
examining attorney to intelligently render an opinion therefrom, 
while sitting in his own office, without any recourse to the public 
records. 

Undoubtedly this is the sort of abstract we are all seeking to 
make. Yet it is a fact that there are scarcely two abstract offices 
in this state in which the same forms, the same manner of arrange- 
ment and working up the title is employed. Prove it to your own 
satisfaction by seeking to find two abstracts in the exhibit of this 
association in which an ordinary "grant, bargain and sale" deed is 
abstracted in the same way. There are wide and apparently material 
differences in arrangement, in briefing and in condensation. 

But a brief time is alloted to cover the magnitude of the subject 
under consideration. I desire that my observations shall be of a 
practical nature. They will be of the pick and shovel kind. I have 
dug in and picked out chunks here and little pieces there, and they 
will be presented to you, unpolished and rough, just as dug out. 

Form. Outward Appearance. 
The outward appearance and form of the abstract should be care- 
fully considered by all engaged in the business. Utility and attrac- 
tiveness should be the ends sought. There are a few abstracters who 
continue to put up their work judgment-roll- fashion in a large bundle 
which is hard to handle in examination. Did you ever have the 
opportunity to look into a large abstract put up this way? Some 
are so persistent in refusing to stay open, that law books, paper 
weights, and flat irons may be called to use in a vain endeavor to 
subdue them. Abstracters are rapidly adopting the book form, which 
has proven satisfactory wherever tried. 

Outside Cover. 
Attorneys for loan and trust companies and banks, frequently 
have many abstracts in their offices. They appreciate the practice 



followed by some offices of setting out on the outside of the front 
cover, a brief description of the property, title to which is dis- 
closed within. 

Caption Sheet. 
The caption sheet, now almost universally used, which pre- 
cedes the abstract proper always contains a description of the 
property under search and frequently includes additional matter 
such as the period covered by the search in case of continuation or 
partial abstracts. The caption sheet is a matter of convenience 
and form rather than necessity. Many abstracters dispense with 
it altogether, embodying in their final certificate those matters 
generally covered by the caption sheet. Where a caption sheet 
is used its purpose should be to show the extent, special incidents 
and period of time covered by the abstract, and to set out briefly 
a description of the property under search. It has become a 
custom almost general to show in the caption at whose request 
or for whose use and benefit the abstract was prepared, and when 
this "Made at the Request of" clause does not appear in the 
caption it may be found in the final certificate. This clause 
seems to have been handed down to us from England, where it 
has been used on the solicitor's abstracts. It may have some force 
and value there. So far as I know from the abstracters stand- 
point it has no value in this State. Being a declaration of inter- 
ests in favor of the abstracter, it is unlikely that it could be 
introduced in his behalf in case of suit brought for damages re- 
sulting from an imperfect abstract, though the declaration could 
be used against him in establishing privity of contract. Many 
abstracters fondly believe, however, that the clause could be in- 
troduced by way of prima facie evidence in their favor, and this 
may be its intended purpose. 

Liability of Abstracters. 

It is not my intention to go into the liability of abstracters 
generally, but it is proper to note that the rule as expounded in 
most jurisdictions is that the liability depends on privity of con- 
tract between plaintiff and the abstracter; and a third party 
being a stranger to the contract, though he sustains damages by 
reason of patent errors in an abstract on which he relies, has no 
recourse against the abstract company. (Warvelle on Abstracts, 
sec. 9. Cases cited. Niblack's Abstracters, sec. 18. Cases cited. 
Martindale, on Abstracts. Cases cited.) While this rule of con- 
struction may be in harmony with the construction of liability 
under contracts in general, it is nevertheless apparent, that the 
rule as applied for the benefit of abstracters must in many cases 
work a hardship and actual injustice. In some cases it must 
appear that no party would have the right to recover no matter 
how gross and grievous the error committed by the abstracter. 



35 

It is a custom in some sections at least, for the layman to order 
his abstracts through attorneys, real estate men, hanks, or fiscal 
agents. Occasionally persons anticipating the acquisition of 
property desire to secretly investigate the title, and so purposely 
conceal their identity by ordering through third parties. It is 
a fact tbat in many cases the abstracter does not know for whom 
the abstract is being made or for what purpose. The courts are 
not inclined to make an exception from the long established gen- 
eral rule in favor of parties not privy to the contract who are 
injured through defects in abstracts, but the matter could easily 
be reached and remedied through legislative enactment. 

An abstract is more in the nature of a thing in rem. It should 
be good at all times for the purpose of showing title, for all pur- 
poses, within the dates indicated by the certificate. It should be 
a permanent asset to the property, passing regularly from grantor 
to grantee, the only necessity to its use being continuations or 
extensions to date from time to time. 

Index. 

Where an abstract is unduly long, or the interests and 
estates are complex, as a matter of convenience it should include 
an index, either immediately following the caption sheet or at the 
end. If the title revealed is simple and regular, the abstract is 
an index unto itself. 

Plats. 

An abstract should contain all the plats of record, which 
are in any way necessary or convenient in tracing the title 
through its various stages. In the case of an abstract of a city 
lot in a sub-division which was originally an irregular farm tract, 
there should be a plat showing the block or portion of the sub- 
division in which the lot abstracted is situate, together with all 
the essential matters of execution, acceptance and filing of the 
plat, followed by a plat of the irregular farm tract out of which 
the sub-division was carved showing its boundaries and location 
with reference to government or other established corners. These 
plats with their notes and references enable the examining counsel 
to follow the title and connect it up at the time the character of 
the property changed from farm tract to city sub-divisions. A 
good many abstracts are deficient in this particular. Attorneys 
occasionally meet with abstracts in which they find Jones deeding 
to Brown a farm tract, and in the very next instrument Brown 
conveying some city lot in a sub-division which so far as indicated 
by the abstract by plat or otherwise may have no connection 
with the property acquired by Brown. Nothing will occasion more 
violent and obscene language from legal lips than an omission of 
this kind. 



Patent. 

In an ordinary course of title, a patent would follow the plats. 
The patent can be set out thus: 
"United States Patent. 

to Certificate No. 

Richard Brown. 

Dated, 

Issued under Act of Congress 

Filed 

Recorded 

GRANTS 
(description) 
Subject, however, (here set out reservations, limitations and 
Exceptions), if any. 

(Signed) By the President 

(Seal) By the Secretary 

By , Recorder of the General Land Office. 

Recorded in General Land Office at " 

Occasionally we see abstracts in which the signatures of the 
Government Officers are not set out. This constitutes a defect in 
the abstract. The law requires as a requisite to the validity of 
a patent that it be signed by the President, or in his name by the 
Secretary, and that the seal of the General Land Office be 
affixed, and that it be signed by the Recorder of said land office. 

Deeds. 

Next let us consider Deeds of conveyance, the instruments most 
frequently met with in examinations of title. As to parts covered 
or to be included in the abstract, most of the abstracters agree 
that the parties should be shown, the date of execution, the date 
of filing for record, the book and page of record, the consideration, 
the granting words, the description and the acknowledgment; but 
as to how much of these formal parts should be shown, or what 
arrangement of the parts should be made, there is utter lack of 
harmony. 

A deed abstracted as follows should meet the requirements of 
the most critical of examiners, preserving, with few exceptions, the 
same order of arrangement of the parts as exists in the original. 
The names of the grantors and grantees should be taken letter 
for letter from the main body of the instrument, where they are 
described as parties thereto of the first and second part respec- 
tively, and not from some heading set over the record by a copyist 
in the Recorder's Office from some uncertain source. Immediately 
following this heading, in a single line paragraph form, show on 
first line, date of instrument; on second line, "Filed for record 
", and on third line "Recorded in Book ". 



37 

Since we are largely dependent on copyists, the safest rule to 
follow in setting out the consideration, the granting words, and 
the estate granted is to copy the same verbatim from the instru- 
ment, beginning with the words "That the said party of the first 

part, for and in consideration " and continuing down to 

the description. Set this out in a paragraph with double spaces 
between tbe lines. 

Next paragraph and copy the description, in a compact body, 
using single line spacer in passing from one line to another. 
When this manner of setting out descriptions is followed through- 
out the abstract, it is an easy matter to check through it for land. 
If there are reservations and limitations which appear as an in- 
tegral part of the description let them be included with it. If 
they are by way of separate clause, paragraph them, with double 
space between lines. 

The habendum and tenendum, when merely formal and regular, 
need not be noticed. Warranties and special covenants should 
be set out in a paragraph in full. Some abstracters in noting 
warranties merely state in the heading "Warranty Deed", with- 
out noting the nature or purport of the Warranty. Many war- 
ranties are merely confirmatory of what is already assured under 
the Statute by the use of the word "grant" in the granting clause, 
being merely warranties against the acts of the grantor. Other 
warranties are absolute in their nature, covenanting that the 
grantor has a good and indefeasible title in fee simple absolute. 
There are in fact innumerable shades of warranties, and the abstrac- 
ter who upon seeing the words "Warrant and Defend" in a deed 
rushes to the head with a mere Statement of "Warranty Deed," does 
not do the subject justice. 

Signatures. 

The signatures of the grantor should be shown letter for letter. 
There are some abstracts which do not show these signatures at 
all. In case of signature by mark, the witness or witnesses to the 
mark should also be set out. If the acknowledgment was taken 
by the witness, the name of the witness as such should be set out. 

Acknowledgments. 
With regard to acknowledgments, there appears <»n the face of 
their work a greater diversity of opinion among California Abstrac- 
ters than on any other point involved in setting out a deed. The 
abstracter in Orange County sets out the acknowledgment in short 
form in its natural sequence at the end of the instrument; the ab- 
stracter at Solano locates it in the same places but cuts the sub- 
stance down to "Ack. before John Doe, Notary Public, Co., 

Cal. Seal", without date or showing as to how grantor's name ap- 
pears in the Certificate; the Abstracter at Kedlands copies the 
Acknowledgment in full and leaves it in position; at Ukiah the 



acknowledgment is briefed and carried forward to the head 
of the instrument. We might enlarge, but suffice it to say that in 
this one state there are as many ways of showing the acknowledg- 
ment as it is possible for the mind of man to devise. 

There is no good reason why the acknowledgment should be 
carried forward. If left in natural position and properly para- 
graphed and set off, it certainly is as easily and quickly found there 
as in any place it would be possible to put it. 

The California Code provides first, a general form of acknowledg- 
ment; second, a form of acknowledgment for corporations, and, 
third, a form for attorneys in fact. Substantial compliance with 
these forms is a requisite to the validity of the acknowledgment. 
(Devlin on Deeds, Sec. 464. Cases cited.) In case of acknowledg- 
ments taken without the state, a certificate of magistracy is pro- 
vided for, and the clerk in this Certificate must certify among other 
matters that the signature of the officer to the acknowledgment is 
genuine. (Cal. Civ. Code, Sec. 1189.) In Georgia under a like pro- 
vision, where the Clerk certifies that he believed the signature to be 
genuine, the Court held that the Certificate was wholly insufficient. 
{McKenzie v. Jackson, 82 Ga. 80. Devlin on Deeds, 471a. Cases 
cited.) Likewise it would appear that substantial compliance with 
all the provisions of the Code relating to this certificate is necessary 
to the validity thereof. 

It is true that the acknowledgment is not necessary to the validity 
of the Deed. An unacknowledged (like an unrecorded) deed 
is good between the parties and subsequent purchasers with actual 
notice. But an unacknowledged deed is not entitled to record and 
is not admissible as evidence in Court, without first being proven. 
The same is true of a deed in which the acknowledgment is mate- 
rially defective. A deed must be legally recordable to make* a record 
thereof constructive notice. An unacknowledged deed, or a deed 
having a defective acknowledgment, even though spread on the 
records, and properly indexed, would not afford constructive notice 
to subsequent investors. (Devlin on Deeds 471 a. ; Warvelle on 
Abstracts 196. Cases cited.) 

Under this rule of law an acknowledgment necessarily assumes 
an important aspect. The examining counsel must know, in order 
to be sure, that each instrument in the mesne conveyance affords 
constructive notice, that the acknowledgments were legally sufficient. 

In California there is, it seems, ordinarily no necessity for setting 
out acknowledgments in full where the instrument was recorded 
in the proper record fifteen years or more prior to January 1, 1909. 
Section 1207 of the Civil Code of California, as amended by Statutes, 
and amendments to Codes of 1909, provides that all instruments 
recorded in the proper record prior to January 1, 1909, regardless 
of any defect in acknowledgment, or the total absence of 
any acknowledgment, shall afford constructive notice after that 



date to subsequent investors, but said act is no bar to 
tbe i"igbts of purchasers and encumbrancers, whose titles were re- 
corded prior to said date. But it seems that the last clause of this 
act opens up the whole question for fifteen years prior to January 
1, 1909. This clause reads as follows : "Duly certified copies of the 
record of any such instrument may be read in evidence with like 
effect as copies of an instrument duly acknowledged and recorded; 
provided, when such copying in the proper book of record occurred 
within fifteen years prior to the trial of the action, it is first shown 
that the original instrument ivas genuine". This clause is clearly a 
"joker" which opens up the whole question for fifteen years so far 
as an examiner of titles is concerned. Few owners can produce 
all their original deeds affecting their titles for the requisite period. 
They have been lost, misplaced or destroyed. In fact, how can it 
be shown that the instrument "was genuine" unless by an acknowl- 
edgment in due form of law? 

As to deeds in the mesne conveyance, and all unreleased and live 
mortgages, agreements, leases or other instruments, recorded sub- 
sequent to January 1, 1S94, the better practise is to show acknowl- 
edgments fully enough to enable the examining counsel to say 
that they are legal in form and afford constructive notice. Full 
copies are preferable for this purpose. 

Released Mortage*. 
When a mortgage has been released, or the terms of a lease, agree- 
ment or other instrument have died by running of time, the acknowl- 
edgment is no longer of moment and may be shown in short form, 
thus : 

"Acknowledged by John Doe, March 1, 1908, before Fred Williams, 
a Notary Public, El Dorado Co., Cal. (Seal)." 

The only material part of a released mortgage is the release. The 
instrument itself may be shown very briefly. The release, if margi- 
nal, should be shown verbatim, and if a separate instrument, fully 
enough to enable the examining counsel to say it is executed in proper 
form. 

The above observations regarding a released or satisfied mortgage 
are an underlying principle of the business, which may be applied 
in case of bonds for deeds, options and all classes of agreements 
and other instruments which are no longer in vital force and effect 
by reason of lapse in time or some duly executed release. 

(' it-satisfied Mortgage. 
In so far as applicable the same rules laid down for a deed will 
be regarded in abstracting an unsatisfied mortgage. In addition 
set out the terms and provisions of the note, which usually appear 
in full in the mortgage. Also note briefly the manner provided for 
foreclosure and sale in case of default. This latter matter should 



40 

also be noted in ease of foreclosed mortgages, to enable the examin- 
er to determine that the sale was as provided in the mortgage. 

Articles of Incorporation. 

In some of the abstracts prepared in this State in case of Real 
Estate, Mining, Power, Timber or Mercantile companies, who come 
into the title by mesne conveyance, the abstracter in noting the 
articles of incorporation of said company, merely states, "Articles 

of Company were filed in the County Clerk's Office 

of County, (date)." I have not gone 

into the legal phase of this matter to any extent. Applying a gen- 
eral knowledge, however, the above seems insufficient and lax. The 
articles should be formally set out. The following particulars should 
be shown. (1) Name of Company. (2) Under laws of what state, 
incorporated. (3) Date of incorporation. (4) Term of existence. 
(5) Principal place of business. (6) Enough of the purposes to 
indicate that the Company may deal in real estate, and (7) Endorse- 
ments of filing in County Clerk's Office, where originally filed, and 
Secretary of State's Office, and in county where abstract is being 
made. 

Where corporations are parties to deeds, the full description of 
the Corporations as parties should be set out. Some abstracters 
give the bare name of the Corporation. In case of an abstract of 
mining properties, we recently made in El Dorado County, we had 
two Corporations appear at different times in the chain of title, 
whose bare names were exactly the same, but one was described 
as being organized and existing under the laws of West Virginia, 
while the second was a New Jersey Corporation. In abstracting 
a slate quarry property, one company was described as Eureka 
Slate Company, while its immediate successor was described as The 
Eureka Slate Company, both being incorporated under the laws of 
this state. 

A certain corporation became the owner by purchase in the year 
1860 of one of the patented copper mines in El Dorado County. 
The articles of this company drafted in pursuance of the laws of 
California, were dated June 27th, 1860, and contained this recital : 
"Said Company is to exist forty years," and yet it appears of record 
that this company did not convey the properly referred to until 
May 3rd, 1902, by deed of that date, filed for record November 3, 
1903, about forty-two years after the date of its ineoi'poration. It 
is not within my province as an abstracter of titles to state that 
that deed either is or is not valid, but it is an abstracter's duty to 
formally set out the deed and to formally set out the articles of 
incorporation as above suggested, in order that the examining coun- 
sel may affirmatively be shown: (1) That the company's -articles 
of incorporation are correctly drawn. (2) That it included among 
its powers the right to deal in the class of real estate abstracted. 



41 

(3) That the term for which the company was incorporated has 
not expired, prior to date of execution of its deed, and (4) That 
the articles are correctly filed in the proper offices. 

Tax Statement. 
Not having the time to consider the many other intermediate 
matters I would like to touch upon, I pass to the Statement of taxes. 
This Statement may be shown either as a separate matter or as a 
part of the final certificate. It should cover all the taxes and assess- 
ments that constitute liens on the property. Some abstracters seem 
lazy in this respect. They except certain taxes which are shown 
on records kept in the city where they are engaged in business. 
They will state "No search as to Water Taxes," "No search as to 
Irrigation Distinct Taxes," "No search as to Drainage District 
Taxes," when the records of these matters are kept with the County 
Treasurer. County Tax Collector or some of the City Officers. Can 
you maintain, gentlemen, that after a party has paid for his search, 
that it is his duty to hire an attorney or go personally and investi- 
gate these taxes? Not only this, but in many cases the abstracter 
in stating taxes uses the following form : "Taxes for 1908 are now 
a lien, State and County." That is insufficient. Set out the taxes 
formally, show to whom assessed, volume and page of roll, and the 
amount due. If the description is poor and irregular, it does no 
harm to set it out also just as it appears on the roll. The attorney 
may in that case desire to have it reformed for next year's assess- 
ment, for as is well known tax rolls sometimes play an important 
part in suits to quiet title. 

Final Certificate. 

The final certificate should be businesslike and explicit. While 
the usual general form of certificate stating "that the foregoing is 
a full, true and correct abstract memoranda of all matters of record 
in the several county offices affecting the title" to certain property 
is undoubtedly sufficient and as good and binding as any that may 
be devised, yet, a certificate that is explicit and enumerates the 
most important of the instruments and proceedings, and includes 
a general clause as to all not so enumerated, lends a weight and 
dignity to the execution of the abstract that is wanting under the 
general form certificate. 

In many of the Eastern States and the States of the Midlle West, 
it has lon$ been the custom of the abstracter to set out before the 
final certificate as part or reference thereto a statement in this 
form : 

No other patents. 

No other deeds. 

No other mortgages. 

No home steads. 



42 

No other liens. 

No lis pendens, 
— and so on, enumerating all the important instruments. We some- 
times see abstracts prepared in the West in which this practise has 
been adopted. 

Perhaps sentiment often touches us in the routine drudgery of 
our porfession. However that may be, I am attached to the final 
certificate used by the company with which I am connected. If 
called upon to do so, I perhaps could not furnish satisfactory rea- 
sons as to why I prefer it above all others I have yet seen. 

The certificate ordinarily reads as follows: 

"State of California, 1 ' 

hss. The Pierce-Bosquit Abstract & Title Co." 
County of El Dorado. J 

hereby certifies that the foregoing one hundred (100) pages, con- 
secutively numbered from 1 to 100 inclusive, contain a full, true and 
correct abstract of all patents, deeds, mortgages, assignments, re- 
leases, bonds, agreements, liens, miscellaneous records, homesteads, 
court decrees, powers of attorney, lis pendens, attachments, execu- 
tions, transcripts of judgments, certificates of sale or other instru- 
ments in witing on file or of record in the County Recorder's Office 
of said County, purporting to affect the title to all that certain lot, 
piece or parcel of land, situate, 4 lying and being in the County of 
El Dorado, State of California, particularly described as follows, to 
wit: 

(DESCRIPTION.) 

Further, said foregoing pages also contain a full, true and correct 
notice and brief of all estates, suits, judgments docketed or other 
proceedings or entries on file or of record in the County Clerk's 
Office of said County tending to affect the title to said within ab- 
stracted realty. 

Dated February 5th, 1909. at 12 o'clock M. 
(SEAL.) PIERCE-BOSQUIT ABSTRACT & TITLE CO. 

By 

Manager of the El Dorado County Office. 

This certificate modified to meet the needs arising under the 
various special cases should stand the test at all times. 

MR. RIXFOBD : Mr. President, I wish to congratulate Mr. Pierce 
on the admirable address he has given us. It is very complete and 
very satisfactory. 

THE PRESIDENT: Are there any questions, gentlemen, that 
you wish to ask Mr. Pierce at this time? 

THE SECRETARY : Mr. Gates is bound he is going to have that 
title read "Shattered," instead of "Scattered." 

THE PRESIDENT: No. I think from the careful compilation 
of Mr. Pierce's scattered remarks that no question will be able to 
shatter him, because he has so clearly grasped the niceties of a title 
abstract as seen by an examining attorney, that I am speaking from 



43 

experience when I say that he seems to know exactly what is wanted, 
because what Mr. Rixford has said, Mr. Pierce has accentuated, 
that the attorney who goes to examine an abstract must have the 
whole record before him. He must know exactly what that record 
is, and without it, he is groping in the dark. Are there any questions 
to be asked of Mr. Pierce? 

MR. RIXFORD : Mr. President, I do not wish to ask a question 
of Mr. Pierce, but there is something that I. omitted to say anything 
about in my paper, and I think it may be well to call attention to the 
fact. We know that frequently we are called upon to examine titles 
by lot numbers and block numbers in some new subdivision of a 
county, or some tract adjacent to a city. You are aware of the 
fact, gentlemen, that the Legislature of 1907 adopted a very stringent 
law with regard to the form of these maps of subdivisions. It is 
very elaborate. It seems to me that whenever you give us a map 
covering any kind of subdivisions, that you should be careful to 
show that that map contains all the certificates that the act requires. 
We have had a great deal of trouble over that, and even under the 
old law I have been obliged to reject a good many titles because 
the map was not acknowledged and was not certified. We have now 
become so careful that most of the people who subdivide lands in 
this neighborhood come to us and submit the map to us and go over 
it carefully before it is filed. It is a very important matter. It may 
be that if a map did not comply with the law, you could not use it 
to prove your title, unless there was a description by metes and 
bounds and a tie somewhere so you could locate it. 

THE PRESIDENT: That was held by one of our Superior 
Courts in Los Angeles County recently. 

MR. RIXFORD : It has been held so here, and it seems to me 
that it must be so held. 

THE PRESIDENT: We are acquiescing in that as the law, Judge 
Wilbur held so in a suit wherein that matter arose. It would have 
to be abstracted so as to show that the certificates affixed to the map 
are in accordance with the law, else the examining attorney is unable 
to determine whether the map is valid or invalid, and must neces- 
sarily return the abstract for that correction. 



Some Incidents of Title Insurance 

By Mr. B. S. Wilkins, Associate Counsel of the California Title 
Insurance and Trust Company of San Francisco. 

THE PRESIDENT : We discussed here yesterday at some length, 
and we have discussed at the various conventions that have met in 
the North and in the East and elsewhere that I have attended, the 
subject of title insurance, and the subject of title certificates. Just 
a moment ago, Mr. Vaughn presented me a problem in one of the 
abstracts presented here, and my mind immediately reverted to the 
problem as to whether the proceedings to which he attracted my 
attention were legal or not. That is the first action of the mind of 
an attorney, or a title insurance company or a title certificate com- 
pany. We are fortunate in having with us this morning Mr. B. S. 
Wilkins, associate counsel of the California Title Insurance and 
Trust Company of this city, who will speak to us of "Some of the 
Incidents of Title Insurance," and I assure you from some knowl- 
edge of that that there are many incidents connected with that 



44 

insurance, and I doubt not that you will be very glad to hear from 
Mr. Wilkins and that he will be able to tell us about some things 
that we have not thought about ourselves. Mr. Wilkins. (Applause.) 

MR. WILKINS : Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Association : 
I scarce hope to be able to say anything new to you, gentlemen. 
Yet, notwithstanding that, it seems to me well for one who is con- 
nected with the business to show an interest in it and to mingle 
with others and learn what he can, and speak of the business even 
at the risk of rehashing what they know. So I shall beg your in- 
dulgence while I advert briefly to some of the things that occur in 
title insurance. 

Of course, the main object of title insurance is the indemnity of 
the assured against loss. That is the whole nut of the situation. 
That is the grand motive which builds up this business ; it is what 
the insured wants, it is what makes title insurance popular, and 
without which, of course, all the other things would be of no avail, 
would be useless of discussion, in reference to this particular business. 

We must not minimize that one thing, the indemnity against loss to 
the assured. That should always be kept right in view. It is not 
my purpose, however, to discuss that, but rather to discuss some 
of the incidents of title insurance. 

Of course, incident to this mode of insuring titles and protecting 
the assured is the subject of earning an honest living for the insurer, 
but that was not one of the incidents I was going to talk about. 

One of those incidents which we find, I believe, in all title insur- 
ance companies, is that the title insurance policy combines not only 
the element of the business of the abstracter, but also that of legal 
adviser to the insurer. The title insurer occupies a three-fold 
position. As the foundation of title insurance, the first thing they 
have to do with is the abstract. That is something that has been 
very fully discussed by others, and will be later discussed, and I 
will not go into it at all. I just want to say that the abstract is 
the manifestation of the title. The records, it is true, are the title, 
or, more correctly speaking, the evidence of the title; but the ab- 
stract is the thing that the insurer puts before his attorney for 
examination. 

In life insurance, the subject of life insurance comes into the 
medical examiners office and is already constructed, and he sub- 
mits his heart and lungs and himself generally to the examination 
of the insurer's physician. Before we get to that point in title in- 
surance, there is the preliminary work, the abstract of title work, 
supplemented by a plant. When we have that much, we have simply 
got to the point where the live subject will come into the medical 
examiner's office. At this point, also, these records, public records, 
are not available for examination by the attorney — it has to be in 
the form of an abstract. In connection with this abstract, tnese 
title companies all have their plants. That plant is a sort of a 



45 

compromise position or middle position, because the title company 
cannot keep a complete abstract of every piece of property within 
its field of business made up to date, since it would involve an 
enormous expense. Neither can it afford to wait until somebody 
comes in for title insurance before it makes up a complete abstract 
for a given piece of property. Consequently, it has a plant, which 
consists in a large part of abstracts already made up, some in the 
course of business, where application is made for insurance, and 
some of tracts and basic titles all over the district. Supplementary 
to these abstracts, it has references and data to keep up, books by 
which tbey can speedily continue down an abstract, which has already 
been made, by which it can speedily construct a new abstract on 
other property. This plant is something that is constantly develop- 
ing and enlarging by the addition of other material. The company 
must have the material with which it can make up an abstract to 
submit to its attorney. And the fact of maintaining this plant and 
these data that it gets together is an element of saving time to the 
real estate agent, to the buyer, and to the seller, in their transactions 
relative to the sale or encumbrance of real estate. 

Next will come the examination by tbe attorney of this abstract. 
Tbe examination, from the nature of the insurance, will usually 
take much more time than the physician will have to give to the 
subject of life insurance. It is a more complex and more detailed 
matter, and presents more facts. There, too, time is consumed. In 
title insurance companies, these attorneys make a report. There 
we come to another point, because when an attorney once makes 
a report and that property is sold again and the matter comes 
before the same insurance company, the attorney who examined 
that does not have to go back to bedrock and go all over the subject 
again, as does an outside attorney, but he can rely on that former 
opinion, generally speaking, and generally speaking, save that time, 
for that point is where he starts. These opinions are incorporated 
in the plant, and are attached to the abstract in each case, and there 
is another time-saver. The attorney who once examines the title, 
or the attorney who comes to an examination of it after an examina- 
tion by an attorney whom he is authorized to accept, can turn out 
his opinion of the continuation very quickly and safely. Those 
opinions, by the way, are not long-winded legal discussions. They 
are not like Supreme Court decisions. They do not have citations. 
They are simply brief statements of the condition of the title and 
upon which the attorney recommends that insurance follow. They 
very rarely contain more than half a page, simply setting forth the 
propriety of issuing the policy of insurance, or, if the attorney thinks 
there is something that needs attention, or any other matter, he 
disposes of it in very brief form, and if the matter comes np for 
consideration, that is done orally with those Interested, 

That brings me to another point in title insurance. As soon as 



46 

the attorney for the title insurance company raises an objection to 
the title, he has the owner, the real estate agent, and perhaps the 
attorney who examines the title for the owner, or the attorney who 
has conducted the foreclosure suit or probate proceedings, on his 
back right away, and he has to deal with them. There is a case 
where an attorney should cultivate, if he has not it already, a 
steady purpose to protect the applicant who is to be the policyholder ; 
he must not sacrifice his rights, and yet he must be broad-minded; 
he must not be afraid of shadows, for if he does, he will reject every 
title that comes to him, and get everybody so disgusted that they 
will all come under this element of unrest that the President has 
spoken of here, and want something different. 

It is a very disagreeable task that is before us in that connec- 
tion. Your friends come in, and they may have conducted some- 
what ragged and jagged proceedings, and you have to tell them so, 
kindly but firmly. At other times, you have to "sort of" let things 
slide. There again is another point in title insurance. Here in this 
city, I do not know how it is in others, but perhaps so in others, 
occasionally a compromise is effected in this way : We come across 
a title which is probably good enough in a way. We know the base 
is good ; we know that the taxes have been paid and people have 
paid their money for it, and it has been recognized and banks have 
loaned money in it. And yet there is some little flaw in that title. 
We sometimes say, to help the real estate agent and owner out of it, 
"We don't want to block this sale if we can help it. Your purchaser 
does not want what he thinks is a bad title, and does not want an 
exception in his insurance policy. We will do this much for you, 
with the consent of the assured: This is a preliminary point, and 
we are willing to take the risk of it. But if the seller will leave 
us a sufficient amount of money to cover the possible expense of a 
formal suit to quiet title, or to bring up old probate proceedings, 
or to terminate a homestead, we will take that risk and issue a 
clear title. But you should go ahead and clear up that defect right 
away, as soon as you can." In a question of that kind, while it is 
done, though not often done, to help them out, of course there yet 
remains some little element of risk. But with wise precautions, it 
is a fairly safe proposition, and I do not know in my experience 
•where any company has ever suffered a bit of loss by holding money 
against some of these little objections in that way. I think this plan 
keeps the real estate agents and sellers a little bit better-natured, 
and perhaps even the buyer. The buyer sometimes, when he thinks 
the defect is not serious, while he wants absolute protection against 
any pecuniary loss, yet when he is simply getting a good buy he 
would a little rather take that risk and take his purchase, especially 
if he has got the property contracted for to somebody else already 
at a profit. On the other hand, we get the reverse of this. We have 
insured a title which we think is good. Our policyholder goes to sell 



47 

the property, and some other attorney finds the title bad, and so 
advises his client. The policyholder comes right back to the title 
company and wants to know what is the matter. We cannot insure 
and do not that the title is above criticism. All we can insure is 
that the title is good. And if, upon re-examination, after consider- 
ing the objections, we are satisfied that that title is good, of course 
we are entitled to stand on the policy and say, "That is a good title, 
and you can sue this purchaser for specific performance and make 
him pay you." Perhaps they do not want to do that, and the sale 
falls through and they feel sore and offended. There is a case that 
requires tactful and firm handling. You must treat the policyholder 
most courteously, and sometimes I think it is even good, sound 
business policy to cure a title that can be criticized, rather than have 
your policyholder feel too sore about it. At the same time, you 
cannot simply pay a loss and admit a loss every time some at- 
torney criticizes your title. There is a case where the loss is not 
such a certain and definite thingas in fire insurance and life insur- 
ance. The death in one case and damage by fire in the other, is 
generally a matter susceptible of physical proof; while in titles, it 
is generally a matter of opinion. So this is a case where you are 
more or less in hot water between the two contending factions. 

Another incident of this business is losses. Naturally there will 
be some loss. But the title insurance business is different from life 
insurance or fire insurance. In the other two classes of insurance, 
people expect large percentages of loss. The business is built up on 
that, and they not only pay losses and large losses, but they adver- 
tise the fact as one of their greatest reasons for getting business, 
that they pay losses and have paid so many millions of dollars in 
losses to policyholders. Title insurauce, on the other hand, has to be 
a little bit different from that. While the title insurance company 
must not try to avoid losses that have occurred, at the same time 
its object is to prevent losses, to handle its transactions with such, 
care, or try to, as to prevent many losses. And, naturally, there 
the interest of the assured and the title company are identical. 
The fact that the insurance company is trying to protect itself is 
an additional guaranty that they are protecting him, because their 
interests are identical with his. Consequently, at the low rate of 
premiums that is charged and considering the cost of the plant, the 
labor cost that goes into the title policy, they could not pay losses 
like the other insurance companies. If the percentage of losses were 
so great, they could not do it. It is a different proposition. But 
when a loss is admitted, when, with all the care of the insurer, the 
selection of his agents, of his attorneys, and the care of his plant, 
he has incurred a loss, if seems to nie it is die wisest policy in the 
world and the only just policy to promptly and cheerfully meet that 
loss. It is the only way to meet the proposition, because the insured 
is paid what he is entitled to. You may hurt somebody's feelings 



48 

if you do, of course : I speak of feelings, because it is this way : In 
life insurance, a loss is occasioned, we will say, by other people 
generally or by act of God. In fire insurance, a loss is occasioned 
by destruction of the building by accidental fire, or by somebody 
entirely unconnected with the insurer. While in title insurance the 
trouble usually arises from the act or omission of the insurer him- 
self, or his agents or employees. The company must not consider 
its own employees there — they have nothing to do with the policy- 
holder — the company is the party to whom the policyholder looks, 
and it must cheerfully and fairly pay that loss and keep people in 
good humor and so add to its own business and justify its existence. 
I thank you very much, gentlemen. (Applause.) 

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Wilkins has outlined some of the in- 
cidents, mostly troubles and difficulties, that beset the title insurer 
in the course of his work. The matter is now open for questions 
of Mr. Wilkins, or for discussion in any manner that you may de- 
sire to approach it. 

MR. VAUGHAN: One point that occurred to me while Mr. 
Wilkins was making his talk, is another difference in the position 
of the Title Insurance Company and that of the Fire or Life In- 
surance Company, which is that sometimes the title insurer gets 
into a position to get his money back by taking an assignment of the 
rights of the insured. 

MR. WILKINS : That is true, yes. 

MR. VAUGHAN : To what extent is it true and how is it ac- 
complished? 

MR. WILKINS : That depends, of course, somewhat upon the 
value of the property. For instance, I know of one case where a 
judgment had gone wrong, and that became a lien on the property 
that the title company had insured. The attorney for the judgment 
creditor swooped down upon this particular piece of property. 
In that case the Title Insurance Company took an assignment of 
that judgment, did not go and pay it. but took an assignment 
of it, and we were lucky enough to find that this property owner 
had other property, and the judgment was satisfied out of that 
property and the company made good. In the same way with 
mortgages, or other liens, depending upon the value of the prop- 
erty, they sometimes take an assignment of the mortgage or con- 
tract, and are in a position to reimburse themselves some time, 
or make themselves whole. 

MR. VAUGHAN: We had a case in our country, where we 
took an assignment of a judgment and filed our claim against 
the bankrupt estate. But we did not hesitate to pay the amount 
of the judgment. 

THE PRESIDENT: I believe the right of subrogation is re- 
served in every title insurance policy, the right to be subrogated 
to the rights of the insured in all cases. As Mr. Wilkins has very 
satisfactorily explained, that is one of the things that we are ob- 
liged to resort to at times. But what he said about the prompt 
and cheerful payment of losses is especially applicable. I be- 
lieve, gentlemen, that that is a maxim that can be observed by 
all of us: When there is a loss, pay it cheerfully and readily, 
if you can. If not, do the next best thing, whatever that may 
be, under the circumstances. 

Adding to what Mr. Wilkins has stated, that when some other 



49 

company or an attorney who has examined the title comes back 
and says, "Your policy is wrong. This title is not marketable," 
that is an incident to title insurance that we all of us must under- 
stand and experience. Sometimes it well nigh amounts to 
tragedy. Your company has certified the title to be good, and 
the purchaser will refuse to take it. That sometimes arises from 
captious criticism upon the part of opposing companies, or upon 
the part of the counsel who have examined the abstract outside. 
In Los Angeles we have little trouble from the counsel who ex- 
amine, because counsel do not examine there. But we do have 
other companies, and I may say that if one of the other com- 
panies can find that our company has made a mistake, I have 
never noticed any particular modesty in their proclaiming the 
fact — they usually seem to take delight in proclaiming it from 
the housetops and otherwise. But if a loss is a loss, pay it as 
quickly as possible, pay it as an insurance company of any other 
sort would. 

This insurance, as Mr. Wilkins has very clearly pointed out, 
is a little different from any other kind. Fire and life insurance 
is an insurance for the future; title insurance is insurance of the 
past, and in title insurance loss occurs by reason of the insurer 
making some mistake. By the exercise of proper care and super- 
human sagacity, which are supposed to be possessed by all title 
men, you can reduce your losses to the veriest minimum. Still 
there are losses, and the best advertisement possible is to pay 
the losses when the company is satisfied that a mistake for which 
it is liable has occurred. We prefer to be victimized, rather than 
to contest a loss which apparently was a valid loss and one that 
we should pay. Are there any other remarks? 

MR. TAYLOR: The only thing that was not perfectly clear 
to me in Mr. Wilkins' very good statement of this matter, and 
to which the president has just referred also, is the recognition 
or even discussion of criticisms which may come to you from at- 
torneys or opposing companies regarding the title which you 
have insured. Title insurance is a very interesting subject to me, 
something I have had no direct connection with and know even 
less about than I do about some other features of the title busi- 
ness. Hence I have much to learn concerning it, so that I was 
very much interested in Mr. Wilkins' address. But it seems to 
me that the company having issued a policy of this kind, if some 
attorney comes back with the policy and having gone iuto the 
details of the title, finds some defect there which might very 
naturally exist, even though the policy were issued, or if some 
competing company should do the same thing, that the position 
of the insurer would be something like this: "You are perfectly 
welcome to make your criticisms, but they are nevertheless 
wholly irrelevant and immaterial to the proposition in hand, be- 
cause we have said the title is good, and we are financially able 
to defend the fact and take exactly the position of a person who 
has given a warranty deed. When you are attacked and dis- 
possessed, we will take care of you, and not before." Is there, 
Mr. Wilkins. any distinction between that and the position your 
company really takes in the case of those criticisms? 

MR. WILKINS: No. I will say that in the main that is the 
position we are forced to take. The only thing we do is that we 
of course try to explain to the policy holder that we have ex- 
amined the points presented, and we are advised that they are 
not tenable, that the objections are not good ; that we have con- 
sidered them ourselves, and differ with them ; that while it is a 



50 

matter subject to criticism, as there are matters subject to criti- 
cism iu all titles, the criticism is not well founded, and we are 
perfectly satisfied to defend the title. At the same time, when 
things get to a point where the sale is complicated, I don't think 
it occurs very often, but I have known the company to cure de- 
fects rather than offend the policy holdei*. But you cannot do that 
habitually, because you would be putting up money all the time 
on every quibble that any attorney might raise, and many of them 
are utterly unfounded objections. I do not by that mean to say 
that there is no ground whatever for their criticism or objection, 
as there may be some. But it is not an objection that is legally 
sufficient to overcome the validity of the title. It might almost 
be said that one never saw a perfect title, because in almost every 
abstract or chain of title that one examines, he finds something 
that he could wish was not there and that he could criticize, and 
any attorney could do the same. But pursuing the matter down 
to what is a legal title, and a consideration of what are really 
valid objections against the legal title of the policy holder, is 
entirely a different thing. Illustrating the point, the other day 
I noted a case where a couple of laymen and three attorneys 
were present, and one of the laymen said, "Let's go out and let 
the attorneys get together", to which one of the attorneys said, 
"There are three attorneys here — we will never get together". 
(Laughter.) 

THE PRESIDENT: When a policy or certificate is ques- 
tioned, that is of course one of the anxious moments to the man 
who has insured or certified the title. The first thing he looks 
into is to find out whether he actually had seen that point — 
though he does not admit that, but rather always says, "That is a 
matter that we took into consideration when we made this cer- 
ificate." The next thing is to find out whether he made a mis- 
take in the original instance, always assuring the customer that it 
is all right. But you make some prayerful inquiries into it, 
and then consult the Board of Directors afterwards. But you 
are always obliged to make the title good to the man you have 
certified to. In our experience we have noted that one or two 
instances of mistakes that should not have been overlooked 
have occurred. In, I think, two instances we have been obliged 
to say to the owner of the property, "Very well. This man re- 
fuses to take your title. Under the circumstances, if you want 
to make that sale, we will buy it of you at the same figure at 
which he was to take it." We then took it, and in both instances 
we made a very handsome profit by selling the property later. Tbey 
were certain defects that rendered the title unmarketable, but 
they were defects which could easily have been cleared up, and 
in both the cases the purchaser wanted to get out of 'lis bargain 
anyway, and we took the property, cleared up the defects in a very 
short time, and in each case made a very handsome profit on the 
sale of the property. That kind of treatment of a customer will 
establish you in his good graces, and in the good graces of others 
who want to do business in your line. 

MR. YAUGHAN: There is another class of certificates by which 
that difficulty could be obviated. To give an example, our firm 
was called upon to examine a title in Little Rock of some property 
that was about to be sold, and, on looking over the abstract, we 
borrowed an abstract from a Trust Company, a very careful com- 
pany that had had a loan on the property. In looking over the 
abstract, we found that back some distance there was a transfer 
from one of our men, Mr. Joseph W. Martin, whom we knew to be 



51 

a married man, though, his wife was insane. He was dead, and 
there was very clearly an undisposed of dower right, and it was 
very difficult to handle. I was surprised that the Trust Company 
should pass over an error like that, and the trust officer was very 
much surprised, too. He said, "You come back here in about an 
hour, and I will look into that." They had a $4,000 loan upon the 
property. When I came back a few hours later, and they had a very 
nice way out of the difficulty, the trust officer saying, "We find the 
security is ample to take out the dower and still leave us amply 
secured." 

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Vaughau's suggestion reminds me of 
what is one of the fruitful sources of defects of title not being dis- 
covered. A man who has obtained a loan upon his property from 
a bank offers the property for sale a year or two later, and the pur- 
chaser will sometimes take the title because they will say, "The 
German Savings and Loan Society made a loan on that property, 
and it must be a good title, or they never would have loaned on 
it. So I will take the title in that way." The property may have 
been perfectly good for the amount of the loan, and yet there may 
be a question as to an outstanding one-third interest. The bank 
might know that, and yet say that the security was ample for the 
loan and that they would ignore it entirely, and well knowing that 
if a larger loan were asked they would raise the question. So it 
is deceptive and fruitful of many disasters, to accept a title simply 
because somebody else has ^Ccepted it, especially in the case of 
a mortgage loan. 



How an Abstracters' Association in 
California Impresses a Man from 
Arkansas 

Address by Mr. Geo. Vaughan of Little Rock, Arkansas. 

THE PRESIDENT : At the meeting of the National Association 
at Des Moines last year, the city of Little Rock, Arkansas, was 
represented by Mr. Vaughan, one of the prominent abstracters and 
title men of the South. He has honored us with his presence here 
today, and has listened, I know, with interest to all that has been 
said. I take pleasure in introducing him to you, and asking him to 
talk to you for a few moments on how an abstracters' association in 
California impresses a man from Arkansas. (Applause.) 

MR. VAUGHAN: Mr. President, it is entirely unexpected that 
I should be called upon, though I have listened with great interest to 
the addresses that have been made this afternoon, and I must say 
that I am captivated with the enthusiasm and progress made in the 
matter of investigating land titles in this State, and also with this 
organization. I want to say that the proceedings of the first meeting 
of this California Land Title Association fell into my hands, through 
the courtesy of Mr. Pierce, two years ago, and so impressed me with 



52 

its excellence and the value of the papers contained in it and the 
proposition as a whole, that I individually took it upon myself to 
work up a like interest in Arkansas, resulting in the formation of 
the Arkansas Land Title Association. And when they say that imi- 
tation is the sincerest flattery, I know that you will understand that 
I appreciate the organization here in name as well as in reality, by 
telling you that we named our association the Arkansas Land Title 
Association, and that there are about twenty-two other organizations 
throughout the country of similar nature, and Arkansas and Cali- 
fornia are the only ones that have identical titles except for the 
State name. 

Here is a little pamphlet that was issued for the purpose of en- 
lightening the delegates of the American Association of Title Men 
throughout the country, and it is entitled, "Whose Who Among the 
Organized Title Men". I gave nearly all the copies I had out in 
Seattle, but I have five or six left, and those who are interested are 
welcome to them. 

I was particularly impressed today with the remarks of Mr. 
Rixford. It reminded me of a paper by Mr. John Fletcher, one of 
the recognized leaders of the Little Rock bar, at our first meeting 
last year. I think we younger men in the profession of abstracting 
should take counsel of what comes from the ripe experience of the 
older men, who have run the gauntlet and have seen the abstract 
raised up from a mere epitome of the record to a perfect transcript 
of the record, as it should be in every case. 

I was also very much impressed with Mr. Pierce's paper, which 
showed elaborate preparation. I think Mr. Pierce spoke of the two 
Chicago authors on the subject of abstracts, and I take it that there 
is an indication that the West promises to produce an author who 
will add a great deal of value upon the question of abstracting, in 
the person of your secretary. 

I want to say, too, that the general trend of the profession all 
over the country is indubitably in the direction that Mr. Gates has 
indicated in his address today, and that is, that the public is de- 
manding something that they can understand better and that can 
be delivered to them with greater speed and dispatch. And I have 
come to the conclusion from my own research, and have been con- 
firmed in that conclusion since being at the meetings at Des Moines, 
Seattle, and this meeting, as well as the meeting of the Washington 
State Association and other associations of title men that I have had 
the pleasure of attending, that the certificate plan is the coming 
method of title assurance — and when I say that, I mean in the broad 
sense, embracing also title insurance. To use the slogan of Mr. 
Gates, I don't think it will be improved upon in years to come ; it is 
a finished product. This appeals to me particularly, because I see 
in it a way to reach the public in a way that they can understand. 
The public, however uninterested in the technicalities of land titles 



53 

and the intricacies of the work of that profession, can readily under- 
stand what you mean when you say you will give him a policy of 
title insurance the same as his fire policy, a policy which will insure 
him against loss just as his fire policy does. Furthermore, he is not 
taking two bites at one cherry ; he is getting the absolute protection 
that he thinks he gets and that he seeks and has sought hitherto. 
My particular hobby along this line is in getting the public to under- 
stand what we are driving at, and in convincing the public that we 
are joining hands with them in trying to produce a better policy. 
And right along that line was the talk I gave the American As- 
sociation in the use of printer's ink in abstracting. That was gotten 
up rather with the idea of convincing the public of what an abstract 
was for, and getting the public to invest in an abstract. What I 
said then, and have said in every other place where I have been, 
along that line, applies more particularly and has a greater appli- 
cation to this idea of informing the public as to the nature of a cer- 
tificate or policy of insurance. Then you are getting down to 
something that they can understand, and something that they can 
appreciate. In my opinion, we can only reach them by a certain 
systematic campaign of education. It may be accomplished in differ- 
ent ways. But in the last analysis, our greatest success and final 
triumph in the business and profession of insuring titles, will come 
when we can get the public, the customer, the layman, to under- 
stand just exactly what it is we produce, and to understand that 
it is something that he needs and that he is not safe and that it is 
not prudent or wise for him to acquire property without that pro- 
tection, and let him come to our plant, our abstract office, and ask 
for the finished product, a certificate or policy of insurance, knowing 
what he will get. (Applause.) 



Inheritance Tax Liens on Real 
Estate 

Address by Mr. Robert A. Waring, Inheritance Tax Deputy, Con- 
troller's Office. 

THE PRESIDENT: I doubt not that one of the most important 
and interesting subjects that will come before this convention will 
be a discussion of inheritance tax liens on real estate. Our State, 
in common with many of the other States of the Union, has an in- 
heritance tax law — sometimes erroneously spoken of as a collateral 
inheritance tax law; at one time that was a proper designation, but 
it is at the present time an inheritance tax law. It is a law that has 
been the occasion of considerable misunderstanding — sometimes mis- 
interpretation — and the subject is one upon which a great many 
people have applied themselves in studied endeavor in the direction 



of avoidance. The inheritance tax is the only tax that is not paid 
by anybody. It is related of Commodore Vanderbilt's fortune, that 
the day after his death two of his cronies met, and one of them said, 
"Well, the old man is gone". "He is", was the reply. "How much 
did he leave"? and the other, leaning over, said, "He left every 
damn cent". The inheritance of property being entirely within the 
control of the States, the tax is paid by the man who has left the 
property. The heir does not receive it until all of the expenses have 
been taken out. So I have been pleased to look upon it as one of the 
easiest burdens that can be borne, because it is not borne by any- 
body. The heir does not receive it, because the law denies him the 
right to it as property, and the dead man cannot take it with him, 
because there are no pockets in the shroud. We shall be very glad 
to hear from Mr. Robert A. Waring upon this subject, and I now 
have the pleasure of introducing to you Mr. Waring. (Applause.) 

MR. WARING: I want to thank you Mr. President for your very 
happy introduction, and I am very sorry that I have been unable 
to prepare a paper, or a talk, commensurate with the importance of 
the subject. When I received the invitation to address you I was 
about to leave for Ventura, where we had before us a matter that 
concerned the second largest tax to be paid in the history of our 
State Inheritance Tax Law. We may mutually benefit however, by 
a mere discussion of the various phases of the inheritance tax law, 
a law which very vitally concerns you. 

I assume the subject is quite new to most — if not all — of you ; it 
is new to me; it is in many respects a new institution. Within the 
last few years there has been a very wide-spread enactment of suc- 
cession, or inheritance tax laws, in the United States; in the British 
Colonies; in Europe; in fact, in most of the civilized nations of the 
world. While such tax has had a very rapid recent growth, yet the 
inheritance tax idea is not new. You know, we of this world, and 
especially the academic of us, have a great fashion of asserting that 
there is no new thing under the sun. If a brilliant conversationalist 
attempts to expatiate on the wonders of modern dentistry and the 
invention of amalgam filling, some scholarly critic is sure to relate 
how it is set forth on a certain hieroglyphic that some Ptolemy com- 
plained of a defective filling, or how a certain mummy was found 
with a gold plug skillfully imbedded in a bicuspid; and the wonders 
of aviation are discounted by the story of Daedalus, who, with wings 
of wax, wandered too near the sun. 

The inheritance tax law, if not modern, has at any rate a wonder- 
ful recent growth. Our State enacted its first law in 1893. This law 
was collateral and remained so until 1905, when it was changed to 
apply to direct as well as collateral heirs. 

The change from a strictly collateral tax to one that applies to 
direct as well as collateral heirs has given the law a much wider ap- 
plication. This is so because property descends more often to direct 
than to collateral heirs. Also, the change has made the law more 



55 

difficult to enforce; there being more temptation to evade the law 
where the tax applies to direct than where it was confined to col- 
lateral heirs. 

Permit me here to read that part of the Law of 1905 (the law 
now in operation), which particularly concerns those of your calling: 

"All property which shall pass, by will or by the intestate laws 
" of this State, from any person who may die seized or possessed 
" of the same while a resident of this State, or if such decedent was 
" not a resident of this State at the time of death, which property, 
" or any part thereof, shall be within this State, or any interest there- 
" in, or income therefrom, which shall be transferred by deed, grant, 
" sale, or gift, made in contemplation of the death of the grantor, 
" vendor or bargainor, or intended to take effect in possession or 
" enjoyment after such death, to any person or persons, or to any 
" body politic or corporate, in trust or otherwise, or by reason 
" whereof any person or body politic or corporate shall become bene- 
" ficially entitled, in possession or expectancy, to any property, or to 
" the income thereof, shall be and is subject to a tax hereinafter 
" provided for, to be paid to the treasurer of the proper county, as 
"hereinafter directed, for the use of the State; and such tax shall 
" be and remain a lien upon the property passed or transferred until 
" paid and the person to whom the property passes or is trans- 
" ferred and all administrators, executors, and trustees of every es- 
" tate so transferred or passed shall be liable for any and all such 
" taxes until the same shall have been paid as hereinafter directed". 

Notice that not only property which goes through probate, but 
also that which passes by deed or gift in contemplation of death or 
intended to take effect in possession or enjoyment after death is 
taxable; also that the tax remains a lien until paid. These pro- 
visions are very important, for, without them, the inheritance tax 
law could be made almost inoperative. 

It is interesting to know that not only is the inheritance tax not 
new, but neither is the evasion of it, for an Egyptian papyrus 
— 5 — 

records that a certain Hermias was sentenced to pay a heavy penalty 
for failing to pay the tax on succeeding to his father's house, and 
another records a sale of property by an old man to his son at a 
nominal price, apparently for the purpose of evading the inheri- 
tance tax. 

Judging by legislation over the world, the inheritance tax has 
come to stay. It is difficult to see how the law can be effective unless 
deeds, or gifts in contemplation of death or intended to take effect 
in possession or enjoyment after death are made taxable, nor how 
the tax in such case will be effective if not made a lien. 

We would better assume then that the inheritance tax as a lien 
has come to stay; and this, notwithstanding there may often arise 
opposition to it. The code says it is a lien that remains until paid 
and that it feeds itself at the rate of ten per cent per annum. It 
is not necessary to suggest that such a lien is of vital importance to 
you. 



56 

Many questions are going to be raised. The law on the subject 
is not yet settled, for the reason that the law is new and few points 
have been presented to the Supreme Court. So far we have not es- 
tablished a rule as to what constitutes a deed in contemplation of 
death, nor when a deed can be said to be intended to take effect in 
possession or enjoyment after death. So far we must look largely 
to other States older in experience for decision, and there are few 
that are much older in experience. 

Assuming that there is no question but what the lien will attach, 
several questions would naturally present themselves to you. Prob- 
ably the first question you would ask yourself is, whether or not you 
are bound to set forth the lien. You may be certain that whether 
you are bound or not, your client will not be content with an ab- 
stract that does not purport to cover such liens. 

You might follow the practice of attorneys I have known: In 
rendering an opinion of title, such attorneys find that the Record 
title to the property that they are examining is vested in the pur- 
ported owner, subject to a string of exceptions as long as the moral 
law; the exceptions serving not to aid the client but to save the at- 
torney from future embarrassment. What does it profit a client to 
engage an attorney to examine a title and have the attorney pass 
him all the difficult legal problems for his own solution? How 
would a client feel about employing you to search a title for him, 
and then to have you say, "This search does not purport to cover 
Inheritance Taxes"? 

I assume that you gentlemen wish to approach this subject in a 
broad spirit, and are as anxious as we are to find a solution easiest 
and best for all. 

Of course, there will be many cases which will escape the records, 
but those which are in the records you should reach some way. 
There is one class of cases which you surely should be able to find 
without difficulty. I refer to those cases where the Recorder's office 
£as a record of deaths recorded occuring in the County and the 
records show the recordation of a deed after the death of the grantor. 

QUESTION: Suppose a death has been recorded a few days be- 
fore we make a search, how can we be sure the grantor has not died 
before the recordation? 

MR. WARING: You are not supposed to set forth matters which 
are not of record. The problem will be difficult enough if you at- 
tempt to set forth those deaths which are of record. 

QUESTION": In our County, the death record is not very well 
kept; it is generally ten, twenty or thirty days behind. What should 
be done in that case? 

MR. WARING: That is one of the situations we would like to 
see remedied. In the interest of property owners the records should 
be such that the abstractor can easily consult them. It will be im- 
possible for you to include the inheritance tax liens with any cer- 
tainty, unless the death records are regularly recorded. And, more- 
over, they should be indexed. If this added burden is to be imposed 
upon you, the death records must be indexed, and if necessary the 
recorder must have assistance for that purpose. 



57 

MR. HARRELL: Sometimes a deed is not recorded until thirty 
days after the death of the grantor, and meanwhile we make an ab- 
stract of the title. What then? 

MR. WARING: If a deed has not been recorded when you make 
your search, it is not of record, and you do not purport to cover 
matters not of record. As I have already stated, you will have 
trouble enough in this matter to include deaths that are of record. 
Of course, if you have knowledge of a death independently of the 
record, a fair regard for the interests of your client would lead you 
to make a non-official note of it. If the grantor should have died in 
Europe, or elsewhere, out of the County, you would not have a record 
of his death. And having no record, you could not abstract it. But, 
as before said, you would undoubtedly make mention of it if you 
happened to know of it. 

THE SECRETARY: It looks to me as though all this opens up 
an endless amount of labor for the abstractor. The law is new to 
us. And we have much to learn about it. It would appear that often 
we will be placed in positions of great difficulty. You say that the 
law makes the tax a lien until paid. Do the statutes of limitations 
run against it? 

MR. WARING: I think not. The question has not yet been de- 
cided by our Supreme Court. Until the Supreme Court has spoken 
upon the subject we can not say positively. The tax law itself says 
the lien shall remain until paid and shall bear ten per cent interest. 

THE SECRETARY: That would further complicate matters. As 
I remember, the more distant the relationship from decedent the 
heavier is the tax. The tax is so graduated. Those heirs, who, under 
the law, are more remotely related to the deceased and who are sub- 
ject to the higher rate of tax, very frequently have names different 
from the deceased. Suppose Smith deeds property to his distant 
relative Brown; suppose the deed was to avoid the inheritance tax; 
suppose it was recorded after the death of Smith, — we do not know 
of the relationship, are the innocent purchasers who have bought the 
property in good faith to be chargeable with the tax? 

MR. WARING: Bear in mind that it makes no difference what 
may be the kinship between Smith and Brown. If the records show 
that the deed from Smith was recorded after his death, you should 
note this fact. Your duty ends there. The mere fact that the record 
shows that the deed was recorded after death raises the question of 
a tax due. The fact that names are different merely makes the 
record that much more important as the rate of tax would be higher. 

THE SECRETARY: Would we have to search ever since the 
enactment of the law for all the cases where grantors have died be- 
fore recordation of their grants? It seems to me that it opens up 
a field that is very hard, indeed, and very fruitful of labor. 

MR. WARING : The situation is not as bad as it might seem. 
There will probably be but few cases of evasion by the methods 
under discussion prior to the enactment of the law of 1905, and not 
so many cases since then as one might think. But be that as it may, 
the important thing is, to look out for the future, to do what we cau 
to secure a recordation of deaths and an indexing of such records. 
If searching becomes more expensive because of the lien, your 
charges will have to cover the extra expense. Purchasers will not 
consent to a practice which will leave the lien in doubt. It is not 
an easy matter to solve, surely, but we have got to get a solution. 
We of the Controller's office are doing all we can to solve it. We 
have prepared a set of petitions, orders and citations for distribu- 
tion to the various Treasurers and District Attorneys. It seems 
best to cite every doubtful case as fast as they can be found. If a 



58 

tax is due it should be paid, because it is due the State and because 
the innocent future purchaser should be protected. If no tax is 
due a citation should issue anyway, and the grantee should be given 
a decree of court that no tax is due. This will remove any doubt 
and will remove any cloud on the title. 

We expect that it will soon become the practice of the holders 
of property, where any doubt of a tax exists, to come in voluntarily 
and ask that they be cited by the District Attorney, so that they 
may get a decree it their favor. Such decree, after full hearing and 
time for appeal has passed, will become conclusive. 

Suppose no doubt exists and no decree is secured, no citation is 
issued, the County Treasurer is good-natured, the District Attorney 
is good-natured, we are good natured, and say, "let the matter 
pass", — what is to prevent a new and ambitious future adminis- 
tration from enforcing the law in such case? And will not failure 
to enforce the law and failure to do what we can to bring these 
liens to light lead to injustice? 

MR. WHITE: In the probating of estate it frequently happens 
that the appraisers appointed are friends or acquaintances of the 
deceased, or parties about to acquire the property ; and the appraise- 
ment is generally very much lower than the value of the property. 
If the tax is paid under such an appraisement, does that conclude 
the matter? 

MR. WARING: We are well aware of this abuse of underap- 
praisement and are using our best efforts to stop it; by requesting 
the appointment of a special inheritance tax appraiser, where the reg- 
ular probate appraisers have underappraised and the estate will not 
consent to a proper valuation; where an order has been entered fix- 
ing a tax and such order is based upon an improper appraisement, 
we take an appeal or ask for a vacation of the order as circum- 
stances require. 

MR. WHITE: When the Decree of this tribunal finds that all 
taxes have been paid, is that conclusive? 

WR. WARING : If a court fixes and determines the amount Of 
tax even though the amount be far too low, such decree would be- 
come conclusive after the time for appeal or vacation of it had 
gone by. But suppose the estate were inventoried at a million 
dollars, and no tax is paid, but the court finds in its decree that all 
tax had been paid. In such case we would come in conflict with 
Section II of the Inheritance Tax Law, which says that no estate 
shall be distributed unless the administrator shall produce a receipt 
sealed and countersigned by the Controller, or a copy thereof cer- 
tified by him, and file the same with the court. Such a decree would 
be quite certain to be vacated by the court that made it, when the 
attention should be called to the error. Such a decree would not 
be entered except through fraud or error. 

MR. BACON: It looks to me that it would be the duty of the 
attorney of the estate to see that the tax is paid. 

MR. WARING: Yes. 

MR. PRESIDENT: The administrator or executor, I believe, 
under the act, is made responsible under his bond for the payment 
of the taxes, is he not? 

MR. WARING: I believe so. 

THE PRESIDENT: And it is up to him, whether it is up to the 
attorney or not. In other words, it is rather up to the executor or 
administrator than to the attorney, because as we proceed in the 
matter of title examination, we find that an attorney is more and 
more removed from responsibility. He may do many things and still 
escape, but the administrator remains liable. In our country, the 



59 

prevalent practice is to appoint a special appraiser to fix and deter- 
mine the inheritance tax. The Court appoints such appraisers; the 
amount of the tax is fixed, and is paid to the County Treasurer, and 
his receipt, countersigned by the Controller, is filed before distribu- 
tion is had. Is it your opinion, Mr. Waring, that the fixing of the 
tax by the Court after the time of appeal has expired, is conclusive 
upon that question? 

MR. WARING : I think so, after the time for appeal from or 
vacation of the order had gone by, subject to such procedure as 
vacation at any time for fraud. 

THE PRESIDENT: The court being clothed with the jurisdic- 
tion to bear and determine the question, and it being a part of the 
decree of distribution, the decree must be conclusive. 

MR. WARING: The decree, of course, would be conclusive only 
as to such property as is returned in the estates. . If a man died 
possessed of a half million dollars of property and only ten thousand 
of it went through probate, that which was not included in the de- 
cree would not be concluded by it. 

MR. McARDLE: In one County a father died in 1893. The es- 
tate was probated and went to the wife. She organized a corpora- 
tion and conveyed the whole of the estate to the corporation. The 
County Treasurer, being familiar with the parties, after the wife 
died, took the matter up with the children. The title, of course, 
stood in the corporation, but as the wife held all the stock, barring 
four shares given to the four children, as directors, the Treasurer 
took the matter up with the son, and the inheritance tax was paid. 

Suppose we had issued a certificate showing title in the corpora- 
tion. What would have been our liability in view of the fact that 
the stock stood in the wife's name? We could not get hold of the 
company's books, because they were private property. 

MR. WARING: The title to the real property was and continued 
in the corporation. You do not attempt in your certificate to follow 
the ownership of the shares of stock in the corporation which owned 
the land. 

MR. RIXFORD : They collected the tax on the stock rather than 
upon the real property. 

MR. McARDLE: That may be. 

MR. WARING: There may be many cases we will not reach, but 
it will be unsafe for anyone to rely upon this. In the interest of the 
whole people, liens that exist should be brought to light, and liens 
which are of record should be shown as of record. Death records 
should be recorded and indexed. If deaths are not reported to the 
recorder, a law should be passed penalizing neglect to do so. When 
the records are properly kept and indexed, we hope that you will 
note those that are necessary, not because you are legally bound to 
do so, but because you are morally so bound. Because when you 
make a search you are acting for your client. It were better that 
you charge a larger fee than that you avoid a most important de- 
fect in his title. Of course, there are cases you cannot reach. You 
cannot as a rule reach cases not of record. You do not pretend to 
do so. 

THE SECRETARY: It seems to me that all you should expect 
the abstracters to do would be merely to set out tbe deeds and en- 
cumbrances and titles, as we generally do, and in case of death, to 
set out the death certificate. Ordinarily, in stating a tax lien, we 
state the lien, and it is proper in most of the cases to state the 
amount of the taxes. But in this case all we could do, in the absence 
of a probate proceeding, assuming the title passed by deed which 
was given to defeat the inheritance, — all we could do would be to 
set out the deed, and then set out the death record. 



60 

MR. WARING: That is all, certainly. Then pass it on to the 
attorney. 

THE SECRETARY: But would that not necessitate our setting 
up the death certificate of every man in the chain of title since 1905? 

MR. WARING: If so, there would not be very many transfers 
since that date. After the matter is brought to date it should not 
be very difficult to keep the record up. 

THE SECRETARY: And where we know absolutely of our own 
knowledge that the party was no relative of the grantor's, which we 
frequently do, we would not have to go into that matter, would we? 

MR. WARING: I think so. 

THE PRESIDENT: I think so, too. If a deed from a grantor 
is recorded after the recordation of that grantor's death, there is 
a prima facie case that the deed was not intended to take effect 
until after death, and it is a matter of record that should concern 
you, I believe, in every such case. 

MR. McARDLE: What are you going to do when we have no 
record of death? In some of the counties there are unincorporated 
cities, and the death notices do not go there. 

MR. WARING: That is a condition that, in the interests of 
the people, ought to be remedied. Where there are large cities 
in a county, some method should be adopted whereby the law 
should be made to cover the case, and recordation should be made 
in the Recorder's office. This is a question that will affect people 
more and more. Legislation is going to be demanded which will see 
to it that the man who is acting in good faith is not injured, while 
the man who is not acting in good faith will be compelled to comply 
with the law. 

MR. WHITE: In regard to the liability of the abstract com- 
pany, writing a certificate, finding the property vested in a person 
or corporation free and clear of all encumbrances, where there is a 
collateral inheritance tax due, what liability is there on the com- 
pany for writing such a certificate? 

MR. WARING: I do not think that the abstract company would 
be liable, except for those liens that are of record. Probably people 
of experience in your line of business could answer that question 
better than I. Are you liable for failure to call attention to a lien 
that is not of record? I think not. 

MR. WHITE: I understand as you read the law, that it is a 
lien against the property, no matter how many hands the property 
has gone through. 

MR. WARING: Yes, I think so. The man who has the property, 
the title to the property, is liable. Of course, he might come back 
upon the person who conveyed it to him, and recover from that 
person. 

(MR. VAUGHN: Mr. President, a propos of the inheritance tax 
law, we have a law very similar in Arkansas. I was just reading 
the matter that Mr. Waring spoke about a moment ago.) 

MR. WARING : In closing permit me to say a few words in sup- 
port, nay, in defense, of the inheritance tax law, for no tax law 
ever was invented or levied that has not been complained of by 
those most able to pay it. 

From Adam Smith down, the political economists have approved 
the system as most just and easiest of enforcement; most just, 
because by making liberal exceptions in favor of those dependent on 
the decedent, the State merely takes a small proportion from those 
who really get a windfall; easiest of enforcement because it is 
only the exception when a man who has accumulated much will so 
put it out of his control that the fact of contemplation of death 
can be effectively hid. Also the tax is meritorious in that it is 



61 

levied at a time when there is a readjustment of the interests upon 
which it is levied, and so it does not interfere with economic sta- 
bility as much as do many other forms of tax. It has the further 
merit of being a corrective of the modern tendency toward cen- 
tralization of wealth in the hands of the few. There is every 
reason to believe the law has come to stay and let us do all we 
can to make it effective and fair. 

THE PRESIDENT: Gentlemen, I think this is a most fruitful 
subject for discussion. I think Mr. Waring has demonstrated that 
there is a source of considerable liability and responsibility upon 
the part of abstracters and title men involved in this matter. It 
would fall a little more heavily upon the men who are insuring and 
certifying titles than upon an abstracter, because the abstracter has 
the power to set forth in his abstracts very fully and wholly what 
is shown by the record, and that is then the end of it. Eut not so 
with the insurer. It has been one of the matters that has attracted 
our attention in the South, and we have been very vigilant to see 
that the inheritance tax shall be paid. We find sometimes deeds 
upon record describing all of the property owned by the grantor 
at the date of the deed. We have found deeds upon the record 
which purport to convey all of the property of the grantor or any 
that he may thereafter during his lifetime acquire. Such deeds are 
almost conclusively made in anticipation of death, and we would 
never certify or issue a policy without making an exception of 
the fact that such recital is there, and either satisfy ourselves that 
the deed was not made in such contemplation, or that the inherit- 
ance tax was paid. That plan has been adopted, I say, with us, and 
as Mr. Waring has suggested, where an abstracter finds upon record 
a deed dated at a given date, and recorded at a later date, with 
the death of the grantor intervening, especially if there be any 
considerable period of time elapsing between the date of the deed 
and the date of its recording, it is almost conclusively presumptive 
that such deed was made in contemplation of death, and we note 
and make some inquiry upon the subject. The difficulty has been 
heretofore that no machinery has been provided by the law by 
which that could be judicially determined, and I was very glad 
indeed to hear Mr. Waring say that plans were being perfected 
by which the District Attorney will proceed to have that question 
judicially determined upon the application of any person interested. 
It will enable us to cure this matter up. Many suits have to be 
brought to quiet title, and one of our Superior Judges took a fling 
at one of the title companies by inquiring not long ago — when a 
matter of quieting title was presented to him — very dryly, "Is this 
a suit to quiet title, or to quiet a title company? Which is it?" 
The attorney remarked that it was both, and then the Court pro- 
ceeded to hear the cause and render a decree. I would like to hear 
from Mr. Rixford upon this matter, for he has had very large 
experience in all title matters. 

MR. RIXFORD: I was not present at the reading of this paper 
of Mr. Waring. There is only one thing that strikes me from 
the little conversation and discussion that has taken place since I 
came in, and that is this : that if a deed is made, you must not 
forget that the Civil Code provides that it is presumed to have 
been delivered at its date. Of course, if, in the examination of title, 
we find a deed like that, and it has been recorded several years, or 
some years, after its date, we always raise the inquiry — that is, 
we do. 

THE PRESIDENT: We do, too. 

MR. RIXFORD: We have to do it very carefully too. We do 
not ask, "Was that deed delivered?" We get the people up before 



62 

us and ask what was done, and why that deed was kept after it 
was made, without being recorded. It frequently turns out that 
it was kept in an old bureau drawer and never would have appeared 
at all but for the death of the grantor. Therefore, we generally tell 
the people to go to the record of death, in the case of a deed 
recorded long after its date, and if we find that the grantor has 
died and that then the deed was put on record, we regard it as a 
suspicious circumstance. Still, it seems to me that the Code throws 
the burden upon the people in this matter, and when you bring 
a suit to recover an inheritance tax, you have got to rebut that 
presumption of the Civil Code. 

MR. WARING: Burden of proof is often a very bad thing to 
rely on, for the reason that the burden may be shifted, or to put it 
better, "it may be up to the other fellow to move". It is then in- 
cumbent upon the other fellow to make his proof. If the State brings 
the grantee into court, and the facts are against him, the burden of 
proof may not help him very much. A presumption, unless it is a 
conclusive presumption, is a very poor thing upon which to rely. 

MR. RIXFORD: That is true. I do not raise it as an absolute 
presumption, of course. It occurs to me that, so long as there is 
nothing on record to the contrary, it may be that we are assailing 
a good title. Still, I say that we are very careful where a deed has 
been recorded after the death of a man or a woman making it, to 
investigate the matter. 

MR. "WARING : You have a conflict of presumptions there — 
the presumption that the deed was delivered when it was made, and, 
on the other hand, where the death has intervened between the date 
of the instrument and the date of recordation, there is another 
prima facie presumption, it may not be one raised strictly by the 
law, but in a way it is a presumption, as Mr. Gates said a while ago, 
that it was a deed in contemplation of death or to take effect after 
death. 

MR. RIXFORD: I hardly think it would go so far as being a 
legal presumption. 

MR. WARING: It might not be a legal presumption. 

MR. RIXFORD: I will not say that it would not be, but I think 
you would have to overcome the presumption created by the date of 
the deed. When you do overcome it, I presume your inheritance 
tax has attached. 

MR. WARING: That is the idea; it might be circumstantial 
evidence, which, with the proper surroundings, would become most 
convincing. 

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Pierce asks me what would be the con- 
dition of the Torrens law registrar under such a condition. Not 
being a wet nurse for the Torrens law in this State, I do not care 
to talk for it. Is there any other question to be asked of Mr. Waring? 

MR. VAUGHN: I just wanted to say a few things that came to 
my mind. We have an inheritance tax law in Arkansas, and I have 
been authorized by the Attorney-General to bring several suits in 
regard to it. So I know that it has some striking comparisons as 
well as some contrasts with your law in this State. In the first place, 
it is similar in respect to the language imposing the tax, in the 
matter of its remaining a charge on the real estate of the party 
whose estate is to pay it, until it is paid, but we have the proviso 
that it shall not be a lien upon such real estate for longer than five 
years. That frees the real property of the lien five years after the 
date of the death of decedent. But the statute does not run against 
the State so far as the collection of the tax otherwise is concerned. 
We have no official record of deaths in our State at all, either city 
or county, and that makes it pretty hard for us to find out where 



63 

the tax exists, and it is up to the representatives of the Attorney- 
General and Treasurer to investigate and ascertain. Another thing: 
The law does not require the administrator to file an inventory of 
real estate with us, but only of personal estate. The real estate does 
not go into the probate court, unless there is some special exigency 
like the payment of taxes, and so forth. But under a law passed 
this year, it is provided that the executor or administrator must 
file also a correct statement of inventory of real estate, so the matter 
will be a good deal simpler after that law is in operation, and it will 
be made a great deal easier for us to follow up the inheritance tax 
and see whether a right to it exists or not. We have one case now 
pending — rather a big case — involving some of the questions that 
have been discussed here this afternoon. The Catholic Bishop of the 
State, just before his death two years ago, made a deed conveying all 
the property that he held to his successor, a man who was his suc- 
cessor and coadjutor, and later on he made a will — all within two 
or three months before he died, conveying to him everything he had. 
Some of the church property with us would be exempt from the tax, 
but a great deal of it would not be. They have a lot of property — 
probably a million dollars' worth— that is income-bearing. Clearly 
both of the transactions named were for the purpose of avoiding the 
payment of the tax. The question arising there is, whether we 
would be put on notice by a deed of that character, or not, although 
to a large extent an abstracter could hardly be expected to tell 
whether a certain deed filed about the time of the death of the 
decedent was entitled to be regarded a fraudulent one, or not. It is 
just like the question of a fraudulent conveyance: it might affect 
the title very seriously, and yet it would not affect it at all unless 
the deed were brought into court and shown to be fraudulent. So 
we have decided, in order to simplify the matter, and decide what 
transactions are actually under the statute, to provide a form and 
send it out to abstracters and prosecuting attorneys and other 
officials in the State, to enable the owner of real estate, or an executor 
or administrator, to come into court upon his own individual voli- 
tion and have it affirmatively shown that there is no tax due. When 
he comes into court, the representative of the State is notified, and 
if he thinks there is a tax due, the matter is threshed out before 
the probate court, the forum provided by the act, and the matter is 
decided one way or the other, and there is a record that the ab- 
stracter can get. 



Abstract of Probate Proceedings 

(By C. W. Leach, of the Title Insurance and Guaranty Company 
of San Francisco.) 

THE PRESIDENT: One of the most important branches of the 
title business, whether abstract or otherwise, is the examination 
of court proceedings, and especially of probate proceedings. We 
have been discussing here under the inheritance tax law some of 
the problems that present themselves under the probate law. We 
are fortunate in having secured Mr. C. W. Leach, Abstracter of 
Court Proceedings of the Title Insurance and Guaranty Company 
of this city, to give us a paper upon the subject of the abstract 
of probate proceedings, a subject which is always a matter of more 
or less difficulty, sometimes of animadversion and many times of 
Teturn to the abstracter by the attorney, who wants more light or 



64 

further light, or something else in the case. The matter of a cor- 
rect abstract of court proceedings is one which is of interest to 
every examiner of titles. I take pleasure in presenting to you Mr. 
Leach, who will discuss this question. (Applause.) 

The abstracter's main difficulty if he aspires to anything like 
a scientific knowledge or skill is a definite program. Generally he 
learns most of his work by rule of thumb and by oral instruction; 
betters his instruction by scraps of reading, by plentiful blunders 
corrected and by random bits of legal lore, by cultivating some ac- 
quaintance with the Code of Civil Procedure. Such a process 
produces -an inadequate and uneven knowledge of principles. Most 
abstracters would be glad to know more and would apply themselves, 
I believe, to learning if they could discover any source of in- 
struction within their practical reach. But there is no one who 
knows, who finds it enough to his interest to give any systematic 
training or exposition. The attorney or attorneys with whom the 
abstracter deals may now and again, when too grievously afflicted 
by bad work, explain some general matter of doctrine, but are too 
busy to do much in this line and text books give little comfort. 
When I began my work I procured a copy of the only recent Ameri- 
can book I could hear of and when my eye fell on the ample pro- 
portions and I felt the "heft" of my new purchase I thought my 
troubles would be extinguished at least pari passu with the rate 
of progress I should make through the volume. It was Warvelle's 
Abstracts of Title and it is a useful and a good book. But I soon 
perceived that no book written to apply generally to conditions 
throughout the United States could come to close quarters enough 
with the subject to be of great help. Being unable to deal with 
matters of practice the author is driven to deal for the most part 
with legal principles, and to treat even these in a very broad way. 
There would not be demand enough for a book written to meet the 
practice of any one State so that the difficulty seems of a kind not 
to be easily overcome. 

Whatever the remedy may be the consequence, of course, is to 
make rather haphazard abstracting and especially to make ab- 
stracts unnecessarily lengthy. If the abstracter leaves anything out 
of his abstract that the attorney wishes he is pretty sure to hear of 
it, while if he puts in more than is necessary the attorney may groan 
or even, on very strong provocation, perhaps, swear, but he is un- 
likely to do either loud enough for the abstracter to hear. 

In the special point of probate proceedings a standard is provided 
for the use of abstracters of the title companies in San Francisco 
by means of printed forms used by these companies, wherein the 
precise material desired is specified and the abstracter as a rule 
puts in neither more nor less. Amongst the four companies doing 
business only two forms are in use and the differences between these 
two are slight; no doubt a form could be agreed upon that would 
satisfy all the companies. These forms have been in use for a 



65 

number of years without alteration and have been tried out in 
practice on interests of great magnitude and proceedings of great 
complexity, and the circumstance seems to justify the inference that 
there is a substantial agreement amongst the best legal experts 
in this work as to what details are necessary to be shown in the 
abstract of probate proceedings in order to enable the attorney to 
pass on titles involved. 

These forms, however, are used by the title insurance companies 
only; and there is a difference, it must be granted, between the 
requirements under these conditions and the requirements to be 
met by the abstract of title. In a title insurance company the at- 
torney and the abstracter are members of one organized institution 
and the division of labor between them is determined by office rules 
and understandings easily made and easily modified on occasion. 
The abstract, on the other hand, goes out from the abstracter to 
any attorney whom it may concern and to attorneys who do not 
know, it may be, and who have no means of ascertaining, unless 
it be by what literary critics call "internal evidence", the competence 
of the compiler. Some attorneys under these circumstances prefer 
and require, if they are in a position to do so, very full abstracts, 
leaving nothing to the suppositious discretion of the abstracter. 

These conditions seem to me sufficient to support the conclusion 
that the forms referred to, though probably as good as can be de- 
vised for their special purpose, would be found rather too brief to 
be followed exactly in an abstract; and as a matter of fact all the 
abstracters who use these forms for reports to their own offices 
make fuller reports when preparing abstracts for outside use. 

Assuming then that we have no official standard or guide to de- 
termine the details of the abstract in probate proceedings and also 
that the abstract should be made as brief as practicable, let us con- 
sider what principles should direct the abstracter in the selection 
and rejection of material. Perhaps all abstracters in their work 
are haunted occasionally by the idea that their business is to show 
whatever is in the record. If we were back a few centuries we 
should know that the suggestion is the work of a certain party 
called in medieval books the Ancient Enemy. The sole object 
of the abstracter's report is to set out the legal evidence of a transfer 
of title or of an encumbrance. All material therefore which is 
found in the record is nothing to him any more than if it did not 
exut, which does not concern the transfer or the encumbrance of the 
particular parcel of land with which he is for the moment con- 
cerned. Of such parts of the record which should be ruled out of 
consideration for purposes of abstracting there are two divisions 
or kinds, viz: — matter which is proper to the record, though not to 
the abstract, and matter which is proper to nothing, being mere sur- 
plus words. An inspection of the Register, commonly the first 
step taken in the preparation of a report, and a glance at the 
papers subsequently, suffice to determine what filings shall be dis- 



regarded. Claims filed, proceedings connected with sales of per- 
sonal property, with the family allowance and, of course, all pro- 
ceedings affecting only real property not under search may be put 
aside in this way. They are matters proper to the record, certainly, 
but not to the abstracter's purpose. It is more difficult in practice 
to deal with the question of absolutely superfluous portions of the 
record, because something more is necessary to be known than a 
general principle such as is applied in the other case. For it has 
to be known what is proper or at least essential to the record and 
what not. Occasionally filings are thrown out — as where an un- 
necessary notice of hearing is given, as quite frequently happens, or 
unnecessary affidavits, duplicate or otherwise; but more often 
the problem is to eliminate from the body of a paper such portions as 
are useless. Petitions produce the greatest difficulty — all of them — 
for probate of will, letters of administration, for orders directing or 
confirming sale, even an order to show cause may develop a bad 
case of fatty degeneration. The temptation is very strong to follow 
the language of the document and I confess that, with immaculate 
principles and the best intentions in the world, I do not always 
succeed in pruning down the wordy petitions to be as small as the 
brief ones. I take it that the proper authority in these matters 
is the Code of Civil Procedure and that as a rule statements made 
that are not required by that authority may be omitted as mere 
verbiage, the abstracter of course being held to due caution and 
bound by a presumption in favor of the necessity or propriety of 
the contents of the paper he is abstracting. Where the departure 
from requirements is clear, however, the useless language should 
certainly be ignored. 

Affidavits in proof of notice of hearings are usually set out quite 
fully and seem not to be compressible to any great extent; but the 
abstract of wills and recitals in orders and decrees can generally 
be reduced far below the bulk of their originals. It is the custom, 
I know, of some abstracters to set out a will literatim, concluding 
with the signature, the witnesses, etc. There are, of course, oc- 
casionally very nice questions of construction and law which make 
it necessary to have the exact words and all of them. But under the 
conditions of our legal and social institutions in California compli- 
cated, settlements are rarely attempted by will and I have had myself 
very few other than plain and obvious provisions to deal with; 
and in such cases I have employed my own language in setting forth 
the terms of the will if I thought I could gain in brevity by it, 
omitting all matters not dealing with the realty under search and 
the appointment of executors, if any, and omitting all showing as 
to the execution of the will, where probated, on the ground, which 
seems to be strongly stated in the books, that the probate of the 
will is conclusive as to its due execution. By these means rather 
formidable looking documents are sometimes reduced to a very 
brief compass and without loss for the purpose in hand. I need not 



67 

say, of course, that great care and caution are presumed on the 
part of the abstracter so that all doubtful matters whatever are 
left entirely to counsel and set out fully for their benefit. 

Recitals to decrees in probate form another frequent subject 
for the trimming process. Final decrees of distribution are often 
preposterously long, reciting at length each step in the proceedings, 
though most of these have been already before the court and pro- 
nounced upon. There is a section in the Code providing that orders 
and decrees made by the court or a judge thereof in probate pro- 
ceedings need not recite the existence of facts or the performance 
of acts upon which the jurisdiction of the court or judge may de- 
pend except as otherwise provided; and I have not been able to 
learn that it has been declared unconstitutional, though plainly re- 
pugnant, it appears, to the constitution of many attorneys. The 
meaning seems to be that if jurisdiction is as a matter of fact ob- 
tained, the recital can add nothing; which strikes the mind of a 
layman as a very sensible notion. I am accustomed to act upon it 
in making abstracts by making very short recitals of jurisdictional 
matters when all proceedings are plainly regular. On the other hand 
where there are irregularities I give the terms of the recitals at 
length. It seems to me also that recitals as to points necessarily be- 
fore the court for the purpose of the particular decree in question 
are enough. 

The greatest weakness of abstracters according to my observa- 
tion (I come back to my point of beginning), though a weakness 
not really peculiar to them, is lack of sufficient knowledge and 
especially knowledge of general principles. Nobody can ever really 
know how to do a thing well till he knows why he does it; and the 
most of bad abstracting I believe comes from not knowing the 
reasons why. I have already remarked that there seems to be unusual 
obstacles in the way of securing proper instruction. Even the cor- 
respondence schools, which lead the way at least in the variety of 
their subjects, have not, so far as I have observed, included this 
business in their curricula and it is not clear that a great deal 
could be done by such means. I should like to suggest some remedy 
that would make an end of all the difficulties so that we might, 
after the fashion of the fairy tales, live happily forever after; but 
I confess my inability to do so. It is up to the individual abstracter 
to try to become a scientific workman and it is up to attorneys 
who deal with him to render what assistance they can. That it is 
worth while to make a serious effort, even if the way be not quite 
easy, I am quite convinced. The operation of economic principles 
will eliminate the system in which the abstracter of court pro- 
ceedings is almost wholly a copyist and the attorney does all the 
work of examination except a few insignificant details. The whole 
work of legal examination consists of three distinct operations: First, 
to determine if proceedings are regular; second, to determine what 
the consequence upon the title is of any irregularity that appears, 



68 

and third, to suggest the proper remedy. The two latter operations 
can be performed only by men of special ability, knowledge and ex- 
perience. It is work that can be done only by thoroughly equipped 
lawyers. Such men are rare enough to command high salaries and 
fees. On the other hand, the task of determining whether proceed- 
ings are formally regular, requires much less extensive knowledge and 
slighter powers of mind and the men who can do such work are mora 
numerous and their rewards in money less. Under these conditions 
to pay a high grade man high rates of pay for doing work that 
can be done fully as well, and on an average more expeditiously, by 
an average man is a direct economic loss. The system of a division 
of labor between abstracter and counsel, according to which the ab- 
stract will be confined to a skeleton of probate and other court 
proceedings, with notes setting forth irregularities, in competition 
with a less efficient organization, will win out in the end. If there is, 
then, work for abstracters to do and work for lawyers to do in the 
premises there is also an obvious problem of business management. 
I hope the managers who undertake this problem will bear in 
mind the case of the railroad brakeman who was haled before the 
superintendent of the road on complaint that he did not call out the 
names of the stations with sufficient distinctness. He said they could 
not expect a fine tenor voice for forty dollars a month. (Applause.) 

THE PRESIDENT: I think you will agree with me when I say 
that, while the abstracting of titles and the examination thereof 
is ordinarily a dull and prosey task, that the tedium has been re- 
lieved by the paper to which you have just listened, which, in its 
excellence of detail and execution, must commend itself to all of 
you who have listened so attentively to its reading. In connection 
with that, when Mr. Leach referred to the fact that they have two 
forms in the city of San Francisco, we have more than two, but 
I was in court not long ago where one attorney was objecting to 
the pleading of another, and his ground was well taken, and the 
court .was inclined to rule his way, and the attorney whose pleading 
had been criticized arose and said : "Your Honor, there are two 
ways of doing this," and proceeded to exemplify that there were two 
ways, and after he had finished, the attorney upon the other side 
answered the argument in this wise: "Your Honor, I agree with 
the gentleman. There are two ways — there is a right way and then 
there is the way that he has done it in this case." So there are 
nearly always two ways of abstracting court proceedings, the right 
way and the other way. A propos of that, I wish to relate an incident 
that occurred some years ago in our own office. We had written a 
certificate and sent it abroad, and it came back without letter and 
without comment, except that across one of the exceptions which he 
had inserted in the certificate appeared these words: "This shows 
good eyesight, but damn poor judgment." I have always thought 
that that sentence was worthy to have been placarded and hung 
from the walls, because it has occurred to me a thousand times in 
things that I have seen — it shows good eyesight in abstracting or 
in any other kind of work. 

Gentlemen, our formal program has come to a conclusion. We 
have with us this afternoon three gentlemen from abroad. We 
are honored by the presence of the gentleman who was elected the 
President of the American Association of Title Men at its recent 



69 

session at Seattle, and I wish to introduce him to you to talk to us 
for a few minutes on any subject that he may think we need instruc- 
tion on. I present to you Honorable W. R. Taylor of Kalamazoo, 
Michigan. ( Applause. ) 

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. President and Gentlemen of the California 
Land Title Association: The President's limitation would almost 
require me to sit down before I began, because I am to talk to you 
upon some subject concerning which I feel that you need to be 
instructed. I am sure I do not know what subject that would be. 
I have been very much pleased to be here at this meeting of your 
State Association, I have been very much pleased as well as edu- 
cated by the papers that I have listened to, and I have examined 
some of the abstracts on your table with a great deal of interest. 
It is upon that examination that I based my first remarks, chiefly, 
that I do not know what enlightenment you could get from me. 

I find in all of these abstracts that I have looked at a very care- 
ful and thorough manner of setting forth the different factors 
which make up the chain of title. There is, of course, a perfect 
way of making an abstract, which may contain perhaps all of the 
salient features. There is also the abstract afflicted with fatty de- 
generation, which Mr. Leach has just referred to, and which might 
be more valuable if it were shorter. I think you have obtained 
here in the abstracts that I have noticed a very happy medium in 
that respect; that these abstracts set forth the titles with sufficient 
minuteness and avoid the verbosity which we find in some of 
our abstracts. 

In the portion of the East where I come from, our customs and 
our fees as well were pretty well established for us in the days 
when people did not expect very much in the way of abstracts, and 
when they got less. Consequently we are continually steering be- 
tween the different problems, one to satisfy our consciences in the 
matter of furnishing what we believe to be a good abstract, another 
in satisfying the customers as to what we can make them believe 
to be a good one, and in satisfying our assistants in what we can 
pay them — and our creditors in the promptness with which we can 
meet their demands with the little surplus which is left. 

It appears also that you have in this State, in conjunction with 
your abstract work, perhaps the highest development to be found 
anywhere in the country in the matter of title certificates and also 
guaranty policies. It seems to me, therefore, that this is an es- 
pecially fertile field in which to work out the problem as to which 
of these methods afford the best protection to the public, and as 
to which one of them is going to survive, and which of them will 
be eliminated. They all enjoy here, as I understand, a fair degree 
of popularity, the abstracts, the certificates of title, and the guar- 
anteed policies. And in the furnishing of them in your State a 
very high standard of excellence has been attained. 

In the matter of your organization, I note that you have the 



70 

same difficulties which I believe exist in every State where they 
have an organization of title men, and which is also a problem 
with the American Association of Title Men, and that is to get into 
it all of the persons who need to be in it, persons and firms who ia 
fact need most to have the benefit of this organization being usually 
the ones who are not in it. For instance, it is necessary for this 
organization and every State organization, as one of its aims, to 
bring the standard of making abstracts up to as high a level as 
possible, in order that there may be no excuse for the unrest and 
dissatisfaction which exists in the public mind as to what they are 
receiving in the way of protection. And the men who take no 
interest in these organizations and are staying out of them are 
usually furnishing the worst work, the work which no insurer of 
titles could base a certificate upon, which no attorney could give 
an opinion upon, which would be of any value, however able the 
attorney, and it is by the work of those men largely that the busi- 
ness of making abstracts is judged. 

One of the aims of this Association and kindred Associations 
should be to either get men of that sort out of the business, or, 
if it is not possible to get them out of the business, bring their 
standards up to a point where the public will receive something of 
an adequate nature for what it pays for their service. We have the 
same problems in Michigan, and I think the other States have the 
same trouble in the matter of getting these people interested in their 
organizations. We have been sending out our proceedings in the 
hope of interesting them. In that way, they get, of course, 
practically all the benefits of the Association, without bearing any 
of the burdens. They get the papers which are presented her* 
without paying railroad fares or hotel bills. I believe that you strike 
a happy medium in this matter when you now decide to send your 
proceedings to all of the abstracters in the State, but with a little 
note attached, "This is a farewell. I trust you will come in and be 
one of us." 

There is also a lack of interest on the part of the State Associa- 
tions in affiliating with the National Association, as well as a lack 
of interest in many of the States in forming associations at all. We 
now have State organizations in, I believe, twenty-two States, and 
about twenty of those were represented at Seattle, in one corner of 
the nation, which I think a very creditable showing. But we need 
to have twice as many State Associations organized, and we need 
to have all of them in the American Association, in order that we 
may co-operate for either aggressive or defensive action, as may be 
necessary, for the advancement of this business, in order that we may 
get the benefit of the ideas from different parts of the country as to 
what is going to be the best way, in view of the different methods 
now obtaining for furnishing information regarding land titles. 

Along this line, I believe the basis of membership which the 
American Association has provided is a very fortunate way of 



71 

settling that matter. Every one of you gentlemen, by virtue of the 
fact that you have voted that your State Secretary shall pay dues 
to the National Association, becomes thereby a member of the 
American Association of Title Men. Every one of you, if you were 
to attend any of the meetings of the National Association, would 
have the same voice and vote as every other person at that meeting. 
On the other hand, where the association does not affiliate with the 
National Association, or where no State Association has been or- 
ganized, the individual abstracter may attain a membership in the 
National Association, and also have the same privileges as a member 
of a State Association would have, where that State Association is 
affiliated with the National organization. In that way, every ab- 
stracter who is affiliated with an organization, either State or 
National, has the incentive to bring to these general meetings, where 
all of the States are represented, his ideas, and take away such ideas 
as can get from others there. He contributes just as much to the 
common fund, and takes just as much out of it, as every other mem- 
ber of the association. 

I am very glad to have met with you here today, and I hope I may 
have the privilege of seeing and hearing from some of you at the 
banquet this evening. (Applause.) 

THE PRESIDENT: While we all of us expect to meet tonight 
around the festal board (I believe that is the accepted and proper 
term of the place where we expect to be), I wish to say that we 
have with us also another gentlemen from the South, from Missis- 
sippi, and I want to have him speak to you for a few moments. 
(Applause.) Mr. M. P. Bouslog. 

MR. BOUSLOG: Mr. President and Gentlemen of the California 
Land Title Association: It seems to be proper nowadays to begin 
most of a man's speeches with an apology therefor. I can assure 
you that I have very good grounds in presenting my apology that 
I am no speaker. I am glad to be with you, gentlemen. As you have 
observed from my introduction, I am quite a distance from home. 
I have had the good fortune to have been present at the meeting of 
the National organization at Seattle, and now I am traveling on my 
way to Los Angeles, ;md from there I am going back to Mississippi. 
So I have taken advantage of this occasion to be present with you 
at this meeting, and I assure you that I have been very much inter- 
ested and entertained in the proceedings here. We all get good 
ideas from association, and the papers which we have heard read 
here, while they are more or less of local interest, perhaps, yet con- 
tain many points which we all find in common in our line of business. 

I was much gratified in noting the fact that you had renewed 
your membership in the American Association. I hope that the 
other State Associations will be as prompt in asserting their allegi- 
ance to that Association. 

The problems to be solved by the American Association are very 
important to our welfare. That matter has been very fully covered 



72 

by Mr. Taylor in his remarks, and by the other gentlemen who have 
preceded me. But there is one point which was discussed especially 
at the Seattle meeting, and that was the point of lining up our 
forces for a uniform method throughout the country of meeting the 
spirit of unrest or of dissatisfaction which seems to exist amont 
the public generally, in the direction of better methods of registra- 
tion of titles, better methods of possing title to real estate. We 
must educate ourselves to a better standard, not only in efficiency 
in our own way, from out of all our efforts, from out of the efforts 
of the different State Associations, backed by the American Associa- 
tion, we may eventually evolve an American system of title registra- 
tion. We must fight the encroachments being made upon us by the 
Torrens advocates, and we must also get rid of the Torrens laws 
that now exist in the different States. While they are there, they 
may be more or less operative or inoperative, but still, so long as 
they are on the statute books, they are a menace, and they should 
be removed. Some united effort should be made by associations 
of the different States where those laws exist to get them removed 
from the statute books. They will eventually be supplanted by a 
better system— of that I feel very sure. The matter has now been 
taken up in some manner by the American Association. A special 
committee has been appointed to investigate into the matter during 
the coming year, and to make its report at the next meeting, which 
is to be held in Detroit. We look forward to this report with much 
interest, and hope that from this beginning something good will 
result. It is a matter in which the National Association will have 
to have the co-operation of the various States, and of the individual 
members of the association from those States, and any ideas or sug- 
gestions that one may have as a member of those State Associations, 
I am sure will be cheerfully received by the American Association 
officers and by the committee mentioned especially. 

I just wanted to mention this point as having been brought out 
in the proceedings at Seattle very fully. I thank you gentlemen for 
attention and for the pleasure of being with you. (Applause.) 

THE PRESIDENT: We have also with us another gentleman 
from the South, who has talked to us upon one or two occasions 
and participated in our debates here. I believe, however, that we 
would be very glad to have a word of parting, or perhaps a word 
of final greeting, from Mr. Vaughan of Little Rock, Arkansas. 

MR. VAUGHAN: I feel that I would be trespassing upon your 
time, Mr. President, to talk any further, as I have already made 
some remarks yesterday, and have participated quite freely in your 
discussions here. 

I know that meetings such as we have had are and will continue 
to be of great benefit to the participants, and that this California 
Land Title Association will prove to be of great benefit, not only to 
abstracters, but to the public generally. 

Just a word in regard to the American Association of Title Men. 
It fell to me to look after the printing of the proceedings of the Des 
Moines meeting last year, and the Committee on Publication and 



73 

the Executive Committee have also delegated to me that duty for the 
proceedings of the Seattle convention. I want to say that I am 
very glad to have met personally all the gentlement present and 
want to get into personal touch with them as an officer of the Ameri- 
can Association. I trust I will be able to get at the proceedings 
without any great delay, perhaps in a month or six weeks, and that 
all of you will procure a copy and will join with us in this great 
movement for a nation-wide improvement in the title business. 

THE PRESIDENT: I believe, gentlemen, that that closes the 
work of this session. The banquet has already been announced, and 
is to be tendered to the visiting title men by the title companies of 
of San Francisco tonight at Berges-Frank's Restaurant on Bush 
street, above Kearny. 



THIRD ANNUAL SESSION 



CALIFORNIA LAND TITLE ASSOCIATION 



Secretary's Minutes 

Thursday, August 19, 1909. 

The meeting was called to order at 2 o'clock p. m. by the Presi- 
dent, Mr. Lee C. Gates. 

The President called the attention of the members to the fact that 
the minutes of the last annual session of the Association were printed 
in full in the record of the proceedings thereof. Upon motion, duly 
seconded, the reading of such minutes was dispensed with, and they 
were ordered to stand approved as printed, no corrections being 
suggested. 

Mr. Carmany moved that the next meeting of the Association 
be held at Los Angeles, which motion was seconded and unanimously 
prevailed. 

General discussion followed as to the time of holding the annual 
meeting at Los Angeles, at the conclusion of which consideration 
of the matter was deferred to a later time in the meeting. 

The remainder of the session was devoted to papers and addresses 
and discussion thereon. 

Mr. Lee C. Gates, attorney for the Title Insurance and Trust 
Company of Los Angeles, President of the Association, delivered his 
annual address. 

Mr. James N. Watson, manager of the Solano County Abstract 
Company, read a paper entitled "Certificates of Title v. Abstracts." 

Mr. E. H. Rixford, manager and attorney for the California Title 
Insurance and Trust Company of San Francisco, delivered an ad- 
dress on "Country Abstracts." 

Mr. Ross E. Pierce, secretary of the Pierce-Bosquit Abstract and 
Title Company of Sacramento, and secretary of the Association, 
read a paper on "Scattered Observations on the Abstract of Title." 

The President called upon Mr. Vaughan of Little Rock. Arkansas, 
treasurer of the American Association of Title Men, to address the 
meeting upon "How the Abstract Association in California Impresses 
a Man from Arkansas," and Mr. Vaughan responded in happy vein. 

An adjournment was then taken until the following day at 10 
o'clock a. m. 

74 



75 

Friday, August 20, 1909. 

President Gates called the meeting to order at 10 o'clock a. m. 

The question of the date for holding the next annual session at 
Los Angeles was called up and on motion, duly seconded, the time 
for such meeting was appointed for the last Monday and Tuesday 
in June of 1910. 

On motion by Mr. Carmany, seconded by Mr. Watson, all of the 
present officers of the Association were elected to fill again their 
positions for the ensuing year. 

The President suggested to the executive committee the advisa- 
bility of selecting topics for papers and addresses for the next year, 
and members to prepare them, at as early a date as possible, s& 
that no one would be asked upon too short notice, and that the pro- 
gram might be a well considered one. 

Mr. Watson moved that the State Realty Board, the California 
Bankers' Association, and the Bar Associations of California be 
each made honorary members of this Association, with the privilege 
of sending a delegate for each association to attend the meetings 
of this Association, and that the secretary notify each of them of 
such action. Mr. Carmany seconded the motion and it passed un- 
animously. 

Mr. B. S. Wilkins, associate counsel of the California Title In- 
surance and Trust Company of San Francisco, then delivered an 
address on the subject of "Some Incidents of Title Insurance." 

Mr. Eden moved the publication by the Association of 250 copies 
of the proceedings of this meeting. The motion was seconded and 
unanimously carried. 

Upon the question of sending copies of the proceedings to all 
abstracters in the State, irrespective of whether they were members 
of the Association or not, the secretary urged each and all of the 
members to do everything possible to increase the membership of the 
Association, to include all abstracters of the State, but suggested that 
general distribution of the proceedings to non-members should not 
be continued indefinitely. Upon motion by Mr. Eden, seconded by 
Mr. Carmany, it was voted that the Association this year send 
copies of its proceedings to all abstracters of the State, and to the 
officers of the National and other State Associations, but that a 
note be appended notifying tbe abstracters of the State who are 
not members that the proceedings of the Association will in the 
future be sent only to members. 

A recess was then taken until two o'clock, p. m. 

A ftemoon Session. 

Tbe meeting was called to order at 2 o'clock p. m., President 
Gates in the chair. 

Tbe President announced that Ins understanding of tbe motion 



76 

that incumbents bold office until the expiration of the coming year 
included committees. 

Mr. Pierce then read his report as treasurer of the Association, 
whieh was upon motion, duly seconded, unanimously ordered ac- 
cepted and placed on file. 

On motion of Mr. Watson, duly seconded, the secretary was in- 
structed to forward to the American Association of Title Men. the 
amount necessary to maintain the membership of this Association 
in the organization. 

Mr. Robert A. Waring, Inheritance Tax Attorney of the Con- 
troller's office of the State of California, then addressed the meet- 
ing upon the subject of "Inheritance Tax Liens on Real Estate,'' 
which was followed by an extended discussion of the subject. 

Mr. C. W. Leach, abstracter of court records of the Title In- 
surance and Guaranty Company, read a paper upon "Abstracts of 
Probate Proceedings." 

Mr. N. R. Taylor of Kalamazoo, Michigan, President of th« 
American Association of Title Men, then addressed the meeting. 

Mr. P. B. Bouslog, President of Abstracters' Association of Mis- 
sissippi, was called upon to address the Association. 

The secretary suggested the absence of a quorum of the Mem- 
bership Committee of the Association at both the last animal ses- 
sion and the present session, and moved the acceptance as members 
of the Association of all of the title companies and abstracters 
whose names had been presented during the past two years, which 
motion was duly seconded and unanimously carried. 

The secretary moved a vote of thanks of the Association to Mr. 
D. O. Mills, owner of the Mills building, for the courteous use of 
the assembly room in that building in which to hold the present 
session of the Association. Seconded and unanimously carried. 

On motion of Mr. Watson, duly seconded, the thanks of the 
Association were extended to the title companies of San Francisco 
for their entertainment of this convention. 

At 6:30 in the evening a banquet was tendered the visiting mem- 
bers of the Association by the title companies of San Francisco. 

Adjourned. 



MEMBERS OF CALIFORNIA LAND TITLE ASSOCIATION 



Arrangement by Counties. 

Alameda — Alameda County Abstract Co., 426 Tenth street, Oakland. 

Amador — M. E. Fontenrose, Jackson. 

Butte — W. T. Baldwin, Oroville. 

Contra Costa — Contra Costa Abstract & Title Co., and Martinez Ab- 
stract & Title Co., Martinez. 

El Dorado — Pierce-Bosquit Abstract & Title Co., Placerville. 

Fresno— Fresno County Abstract Co., 1117 K street, and San Joaquin 
Abstract Co., Fresno. 

Glenn — John H. Graves, Willows. 

Humboldt— Belcher & Crane Co., 531 Third street. Eureka. 

Lassen — Lassen County Abstract Co., Susanville. 

Los Angeles — Title Insurance & Trust Co., Franklin and New High 
streets, Los Angeles. 

Madera — Madera Abstract Co., Madera. 

Marin — Marin County Abstract Co., and Abstract & Title Co., San 
Rafael. 

Mendocmo — Ukiah Guarantee Abstract & Title Co., Ukiah. 

Merced — Simonson & Harrel. Merced. 

Monterey — Salinas Abstract Co., Salinas. 

Nevada — Pierce-Bosquit Abstract & Title Co., Nevada City. 

Orange — Abstract & Title Guaranty Co., and Orange County Title Co., 
Santa Ana. 

Riverside — Riverside Abstract Co., Riverside. 

Sacramento — Pierce-Bosquit Abstract & Title Co. (now compiling 
plant), and Sacramento Abstract & Title Co., 701 I street, Sacra- 
mento. 

San Diego — Union Title & Trust Co., 903 Fourth street, San Diego. 

San Francisco — California Title Insurance & Trust Co., Kohl Build- 
ing ; Pacific Title Insurance Co., 420 Montgomery street ; Standard 
Title Insurance Co., Mills Building; and Title Insurance & Guar- 
anty Co., 250 Montgomery street, San Francisco. 

San Mateo — Abstract of Title Co. of San Mateo County, Redwood City. 

Santa Barbara — Santa Barbara Abstract & Guaranty Co., Santa 
Barbara. 

Santa Clara — San Jose Abstract *'o., 74 N. First street, San Jose. 

Solano — Solano County Abstract Co., Fairfield. 

Stanislaus — Modesto Title Abstract Co., and Stanislaus Land & Ab- 
stract Co., Modesto. 

Tulare— Tulare County Abstract Co., aud Visalia Abstract Co., Visalia. 



*J> 



I